Nothing to Smith About: Dental Hygiene Report

New research has found three quarters of Australians rarely or never floss or clean between their teeth, one in five adults brush their teeth only once a day and over 60% haven’t seen a dentist for at least two years.

Among other surprising outcomes, the Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) 2020 National Consumer Survey of around 25,000 people released today for Dental Health Week (2-8 August) also found:

  • Four in 10 parents report their children under 17 years drink two to five soft drinks a week, despite 83% knowing such drinks can lead to tooth decay. A sizeable number of parents appear to be unaware that fruit juice can lead to tooth decay.

  • Two in three adults usually visit the dentist for a specific problem rather than for a check-up, a figure that has not improved since first being recorded in 2014.

  • One in three adults rate their oral health as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. This increased with age to one in two adults for those over 56. The most common reason was ‘don’t visit the dentist enough’.

“These findings show that Australians have the capacity to improve the daily habits that contribute to good oral health,” says ADA Vice President Dr Steven Liew.

“Not brushing twice, a day and flossing once a day is a fast track to developing tooth decay, gum disease and a range whole of body health issues that can arise from sub-par oral health.

“Previous studies suggest that untreated advanced gum disease can increase the chances of serious cardiac events, adverse pregnancy outcomes including prematurity, Type 2 diabetes and other significant health conditions.

“Brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, and flossing thoroughly every day, as well as consuming a diet low in added sugar and seeing your dentist at least once a year, all go a long way to maintaining good oral health and benefits whole of body health.”

In addition, the survey also indicated that 37% of people purchased a teeth whitening kit online, 16% from a chemist or supermarket, 16% had it done at the dental practice, and 22% did it at home under the supervision of the dentist who supplied a take-home kit.

Further, 64% said they weren’t aware of the risks of teeth whitening services operated by non-dentists. These risks can include painful chemical burns to the gums and lips, and sensitivity or pain affecting the teeth. Meanwhile, 18% of respondents said they whitened yearly, 38% every six months, 26% bi-monthly, 15% monthly and 3% every week.

Source:, viewed 3 August 2021.


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