Most Americans will tell you that they value their dental health and hope to preserve it well into the future. Unfortunately, the facts suggest their actions are not always consistent with their beliefs. Here are some surprising U.S. dental health statistics that give insight into the state of oral health in the United States.
- According to the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute, research shows that 95 percent of Americans regard their oral health as a critical part of their overall well-being. That said, despite this collective attitude, more than a third of all Americans fail to floss their teeth on a daily basis. Ideally, you should floss at least once per day using the ADA’s recommendations for effective flossing to help guide you.
- When they do floss, many Americans do it in strange ways. According to a survey from the ADA, 61 percent of US respondents admit to using fingernails to remove food from between their teeth, while 40 percent say they’ve used cards or folded paper. Another 21 percent admit to using cutlery to clean between their teeth, while 21 percent say they’ve used safety pins or strands of hair. What’s more, 63 percent of respondents admit that they knew these makeshift flossing instruments could cause harm, and 42 percent admitted that they did, in fact, feel pain while using them.
- While nearly eight out of ten American adults consider dental benefits important; only about 64 percent actually have them. This is especially concerning, since people with dental benefits tend to have healthier teeth and gums, while people without dental insurance are more at risk of losing their teeth as they age.
- While you probably aren’t surprised to learn that excessive soda consumption can lead to significant dental problems; you may be shocked to learn that diet soda can be just as bad. According to a report published in the journal General Dentistry, a long-term diet soda addiction can cause as much dental damage as years of smoking crack cocaine or crystal meth.
- According to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA), approximately 78 percent of all Americans will have at least one cavity by the time they reach age 17. The ADHA also reports that about 80 percent of the U.S. population has some form of gum disease.
- The Academy of General Dentistry reports that the average person brushes for only 45 to 70 seconds a day. This points toward a widespread problem, when you consider that dentists recommend that people brush for at least two minutes, twice per day, to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
- The ADHA also reports that 75 percent of Americans use their toothbrushes longer than they should. This can lead to bacterial buildup on the bristles, which can cause potential infections. The ADA recommends that people replace their toothbrushes about every three to four months, or even sooner if the bristles begin to fall out or become frayed. It’s also best to avoid enclosing your toothbrush in an air-tight plastic container, since this can create moisture that promotes bacterial buildup. You should also avoid sharing toothbrushes and be sure to thoroughly rinse your bristles with clean tap water after you finish brushing.
Our friendly dentists at Gentle Dental can help you learn all about how to care for your oral health and most effectively maintain the bright smile you have always wanted.