Oral Hygiene Myths Continue to Persist

Dentistry Today

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Poor oral hygiene isn’t always the result of laziness. Sometimes, your patients are mistaken about what they need to do to take care of their teeth—and they think they’re doing a good job anyway. To celebrate March 20 as World Oral Health Day, Federation Dentaire International (FDI) World Dental Federation is busting popular myths about proper oral hygiene with the help of a survey of consumers conducted across 12 countries.

For example, in 8 of these countries, 50% or more of those surveyed think it’s important to brush their teeth immediately after every main meal. Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, and Poland were the worst offenders of this incorrect oral health practice, at 84%, 81%, 62%, and 60%, respectively. FDI World Dental Federation recommends waiting at least 30 minutes to brush after eating to avoid weakening the tooth enamel.

“These survey results highlight an alarming discrepancy between knowledge and actual good oral health practices,” said Dr. Patrick Hescot, FDI president. “We want everyone to take control of their oral health this World Oral Health Day and understand that by adopting good oral hygiene habits, avoiding risk factors, and having a regular dental checkup, they can help protect their mouths.”

Also, most countries surveyed believe that rinsing the mouth out with water after brushing is important, with Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, India, and Canada practicing this myth the most (77%, 75%, 73%, 67%, and 67%, respectively). FDI World Dental Federation believes that not rinsing with water immediately after brushing will allow maximum exposure to fluoride, optimizing its preventive effects.

Nearly half of the population surveyed in India, South Africa, Brazil, and Poland (52%, 49%, 48%, and 42%, respectively) believed that drinking fruit juice instead of fizzy drinks was important for good oral health. However, fruit juice also can be high in sugar and cause tooth decay. FDI World Dental Federation believes that sugary drink consumption should be minimized as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Plus, 67% of people recognize the need to visit a dentist after seeing signs of bad oral health, but only 42% tend to seek a dentist’s advice. FDI World Dental Federation found that Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Poland were the best at going to the dentist, while Egypt, Japan, and New Zealand were the worst.

The survey also found the following:

  • 77% of those surveyed agreed that visiting a dentist once per year is a good oral health practice, but only 52% actually tend to do it.
  • Only 28% of respondents identified drinking alcohol in moderation as important for good oral health.
  • 66% of respondents knew to avoid tobacco use to maintain good oral health.
  • 69% of respondents recognized that eating excessive sugar is bad for oral health.

“Understanding good oral health practices and adopting them early in life will help to maintain optimal oral health into old age and ensure you live a long life free from physical pain and often emotional suffering caused by oral disease,” said Dr. Edoardo Caville, World Oral Health Day Task Team chair.

The study, comprising 12,849 adults aged 18 years and older, was conducted online by YouGov Plc between January 20 and January 31, 2017. Surveyed countries included Great Britain (2,090 subjects), the United States (1,145), Australia (1,018), New Zealand (1,055), Egypt (1,012), India (1,011), Japan (1,006), Mexico (1,006), Poland (1,004), Canada (1,002), Brazil (1,000), and South Africa (500).

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