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Americans recognize need for oral care, ADA-Crest/Oral B survey shows

It was the public's turn to speak at annual session. Welcome to the unveiling of "The Public Speaks Up on Oral Health Care: An ADA and Crest/Oral-B Public Opinion Survey."

"Ideally, this year's findings will serve as a baseline against which we can gauge changes in consumer perceptions about their oral health and what we all hope will be improvements in oral health over time," ADA President Mark J. Feldman told a dinner crowd Thursday at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. "I invite you all to be the first to hear about what we found and to share those findings, whether with your patients or your readers."

Let the ADA News Convention Daily respond to Dr. Feldman with a sneak peek at key findings:

  • While eight of 10 Americans say that care of one's mouth, teeth and gums is "absolutely needed," only one-third say they do an "excellent" job taking care of them.
  • One parent in four says his or her kids do only a "fair" or "poor" job taking care of their own mouth, teeth and gums.
  • Americans deem the smile their most important physical attribute but do not realize that a beautiful smile is not always a healthy smile and can mask underlying oral health problems. More than one in three say:
  • They think a little bleeding from brushing is normal (33 percent), but it's not and it could be a sign of gum disease or something worse.
  • They are unaware that periodontal disease needs to be treated and cannot be left alone (33 percent).
  • They don't know that poor oral health has been associated with serious health conditions such as stroke, heart disease and diabetes (37 percent).

"This survey helps dentists understand opinions their patients may not be sharing, opinions that provide an opportunity to address perception versus reality when it comes to oral health," said Dr. Ada Cooper, an ADA consumer adviser.

The national survey of 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older focused on public perceptions of their oral health care, with a special focus on African-Americans, Hispanics and lower-income Americans; knowledge of effective and essential oral health care habits; oral health habits among the nation's youth, and the psychological benefits of a healthy smile.

The American Dental Association, Crest and Oral-B collaborated on the survey with Procter & Gamble support. Conducted by GFK Roper Public Affairs & Media, the survey is available on ADA.org.

"This is the inaugural release of what I hope will be many more annual public opinion surveys on what consumers think about their oral health," Dr. Feldman said.