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Americans Score a D on National Oral Health Quiz

Posted on Wednesday, October 9, 2013

CHICAGO, July 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Americans need a serious brush up when it comes to their oral health, according to a new survey from the American Dental Association (ADA). The survey results were recently released during the ADA’s launch of a robust new website,, dedicated to improving the oral health of all Americans. On average, Americans scored a “D” on a series of true or false questions ranging from how often to brush and what age should a child first visit a dentist to what causes cavities.

“The results of the survey were quite shocking and really show how important it is for people to become more involved in their own oral health,” said William R. Calnon, D.D.S., ADA president and a practicing dentist in Rochester, N.Y.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), nine out of 10 adults ages 20-64 have had cavities in their permanent teeth. Dental disease is the most common chronic disease suffered by children. According to the NIDCR, nearly half of children ages 2-11 years old have had cavities in their baby teeth.

Dr. Calnon said the ADA’s new consumer website,, features the dental IQ quiz so people can test their own knowledge. The website is filled with prevention, care and treatment information to help people get and stay mouth healthy for life. The website launches June 25.

“Oral health is a critical part of overall health,” Dr. Calnon stressed. “ will help empower people to take charge of their oral health.”

Some highlights from the national ADA survey conducted in May with a nationally representative sample of nearly 1,500 adults (with a margin of error of + or – 2.6 points) include:

  • 90 percent of respondents mistakenly believe they should brush after every meal when the ADA recommends only twice a day

  • 65 percent of respondents mistakenly believe they should only replace their toothbrush twice a year when the ADA recommends every three months

  • 75 percent of respondents don’t know what age to take their child to the dentist for the first time when the ADA recommends within six months after the first tooth appears or no later than the child’s first birthday

  • 81 percent of respondents mistakenly think that sugar causes cavities when it’s really germs in the mouth that feed on sugar and then produce acid which attacks tooth enamel. In time, these acid attacks weaken the enamel to the point where a cavity forms

  • 59 percent of respondents don’t realize cavity-causing germs can be passed from person to person, answers these and many other questions. The new website is organized by life stages and includes information on the top 10 dental symptoms, how to handle dental emergencies, A-Z oral health topics, and how to find an ADA member dentist and ADA Seal of Acceptance products. Also included are videos, tips and activities and a special section to make oral health care fun for children.’s children’s section will also feature the bilingual videos of beloved Sesame Street characters Elmo and Abby Caddaby spreading oral health messages through Sesame Workshop’s latest oral health outreach effort called Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me.

“ is an extremely valuable resource for individuals and families to take care of their oral health,” Dr. Calnon stated. “Simple, yet important measures such as eating a balanced diet, brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and visiting a dentist regularly can help prevent dental disease. Teeth are meant to last a lifetime, and the ADA wants Americans to be mouth healthy for life.”

Dr. Calnon added that each advertisement on the MouthHealthy website will be subject to the ADA’s stringent advertising guidelines. As an example, advertisements promoting soda pop and sports drinks will not be accepted because, from a dental perspective, a steady diet of sugary foods and drinks can damage teeth.

“ is, first and foremost, a source of credible oral health information for the public,” Dr. Calnon said. “America’s dentists are committed to help people be mouth healthy for life.”


About the American Dental Association

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation’s largest dental association, representing more than 157,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public’s health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA’s state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA’s flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA’s consumer website

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