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Survey Finds Shortcomings in Americans’ Dental Health Habits

Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2014

OAK BROOK, Ill. (September 23, 2014) – Most Americans do it twice a day – once at bedtime and once after getting up in the morning – for an average of one minute and fifty-two seconds. These are some of the findings on tooth brushing from the Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey announced today. 1

Nearly seven of 10 Americans (69 percent) brush their teeth at least twice a day, the amount recommended by the American Dental Association and other dental health professionals. However, that means more than 30 percent of Americans aren’t brushing enough, according to Dr. Bill Kohn, DDS and vice president of dental science and policy for Delta Dental Plans Association.

On average, Americans brush for just under the two minutes recommended by dental professionals. African Americans brush 18 seconds longer than Americans as a whole, while younger adults ages 18 to 24 spend 16 seconds longer than average brushing.

Nearly six of 10 Americans brush their teeth at bedtime and as soon as they wake up in the morning, while 38 percent brush after breakfast. About 17 percent brush after lunch, and 21 percent brush after dinner.

According to the Delta Dental survey, 91 percent of Americans brush most frequently at home in their bathrooms over the sink. However, about 4 percent say they most frequently brush in the shower. Americans ages 18 to 44 are twice as likely to brush in the shower.

“We don’t have a formal position at Delta Dental on where to brush – as long as you’re not brushing while driving,” Kohn says. “Fortunately, only 0.2 percent of Americans try to seek the efficiency of brushing while driving.”

Brushing Habits Linked with Oral Health

Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is key to good oral health, Kohn says. In fact, according to the Delta Dental survey, people who brush at least twice a day are 22 percent more likely to describe their oral health as good or better compared with those who brush less frequently.

Unfortunately, 23 percent of Americans have gone two or more days without brushing their teeth in the past year. Nearly 37 percent of adults ages 18 to 24 have gone that long without brushing.

Flossing is another area that could use some improvement, according to Kohn. Only four of 10 Americans (41 percent) floss at least once a day, and 20 percent never floss. The survey showed a strong relationship between flossing daily and reporting good oral health.

Brush First, Please

Through one of the lighter topics addressed in the survey, Delta Dental found that one-third of Americans (33 percent) have made their partners brush their teeth before a kiss. Men were less likely to require brushing before kissing – one of the activities made possible by good oral health.

“Delta Dental sponsored the Oral Health and Well-Being Survey to shine a spotlight on the importance of oral health in America,” says Kohn. “As leaders in oral health, we have long known its importance for basic daily activities involving the mouth and the link between oral health and overall health. Our study also demonstrates the connection between oral health and overall well-being.”

For more results from the Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey, visit

1Morpace, Inc. conducted the Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey on behalf of Delta Dental with 1,003 consumers across the United States.

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