A new survey from the American Dental Association (ADA) shows that Americans seriously need to clean up their act when it comes to oral health. The ADA’s newly launched website, MouthHealth.org that aims to improve oral health reveals that Americans’ average score was a ‘D’ in the survey’s range of ‘true or false’ questions, which included questions like how often should teeth be cleaned, what causes cavities and the age of a child’s first dentist visit.

William R. Calnon, D.D.S., ADA president and a practicing dentist in Rochester, N.Y. stated: “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.”

Nine in ten adults aged between 20-64 years have had cavities in their permanent teeth, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), and almost half of children between the ages from 2 to 11 years have already had cavities in their baby teeth. It is therefore not surprising that the most common chronic disease in children is dental disease.

ADA’s new consumer website, www.MouthHealthy.org, which was launched on June 25, provides information on prevention, care and treatments to improve and maintain dental care in addition to the dental IQ test so that visitors to the site can test their own knowledge.

Dr. Calnon pointed out: “Oral health is a critical part of overall health. MouthHealthy.org will help empower people to take charge of their oral health.” ADA’s national survey, conducted in May 2012, which involved a nationally representative sample of almost 1,500 adults revealed:

  • 90% of people believe they should clean their teeth after every meal, whilst ADA recommends cleaning twice a day
  • 81% of people believe that cavities are caused by sugar. However, it is not the actual sugar that causes cavities, but germs in the mouth that feed on sugar and produce acid that attacks the teeth enamel, which over time wear down the enamel to such an extent that cavities form
  • 75% have no idea at what age they should take a child to the dentist for the first time. According to ADA recommendations, a child’s first dentist visit should be within six months after the first tooth appears or before the child’s first birthday
  • 65% of people think their toothbrush should be replaced twice a year, when it should be replaced every three months
  • 59% of people are unaware that germs that can cause cavities can be passed from person to person

(The survey included a margin of error of + or – 2.6 points.)

Answers and other questions like these can all be found on the new website, Mouthhealthy.org, which includes features like dental tips and information on the top 10 dental symptoms for all age groups, how to deal with dental emergencies, an A-Z on oral health topics, and how to find an ADA member dentist and ADA Seal of Acceptance products, in addition to featuring videos, tips and activities.

The website also features a special children’s section to make oral health care more interesting and fun for children, including bilingual videos of the famous Sesame Street characters Elmo and Abby Caddaby that teach oral health through Sesame Workshop’s latest oral health outreach initiative called Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me.

Dr. Calnon declared:

“MouthHealthy.org is an extremely valuable resource for individuals and families to take care of their oral health. 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.”

He added that any adverts on the MouthHealthy website will be strictly scrutinized under ADA’s advertising guidelines. Adverts for sports drinks and soda pops for instance will not be accepted, as these products are contradictive to the website’s message of promoting dental health.

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

Written By Petra Rattue