A Snapshot of America’s Dental Health Habits


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Oral hygiene isn’t just about keeping your teeth shiny and white in order to impress people — it’s about maintaining the efficiency and strength of not only the first step in digestion, but also one of your body’s first lines of defense against disease. Sadly, oral health is not a priority for a staggering number of Americans.

The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth after every meal. However, less than 30% of American women and only one fifth of American men follow this advice. The stats on flossing are not much more encouraging: half of all Americans say they floss every day, over 30% say they floss on a “less than daily” basis, and over 18% admit to never flossing their teeth at all.

The effects of this negligence on the oral health of our country are profound. Over 90% of people between the ages of 20 and 64 have at least one cavity in their permanent teeth. And almost a quarter of all Americans have cavities that are untreated, whether because they don’t know they have them or because they willfully ignore the symptoms.

The habits of parents will become the habits of their children. Untreated dental decay is the most chronic childhood disease in this country, surpassing diabetes and even childhood obesity. The Center for Disease Control found that approximately 20% of American children have some form of untreated dental decay. But this is just a current snapshot: the long-term effects of the situation could be cause for a dental care disaster in the coming decades.

Good dental hygiene and oral health must begin at home, no matter the age. Proper habits, instilled early and adhered to throughout life, are essential to a lifetime of healthy, functional — and yes, beautiful — teeth and gums. Read more articles like this.

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