What would your patients do instead of floss? Recent AAP survey discusses patient attitudes towards flossing

There are a lot of unpleasant things people say they will do ahead of flossing? Really folks? Shouldn't oral health be ahead of cleaning your toilet?

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A new national survey released June 23 reveals that more than a quarter (27%) of US adults admit they lie to their dentist about how often they floss their teeth. Additionally, more than one-third of Americans (36%) would rather do an unpleasant activity like cleaning the toilet (14%) over daily flossing. Along with brushing teeth twice a day and an annual comprehensive periodontal evaluation from a periodontist, daily flossing is a critical component in the prevention of periodontal disease. The survey was conducted online in March by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) among 2,021 US adults and among the top 10 US markets.

“There’s clearly more work to be done when it comes to educating Americans about the importance of oral hygiene,” said AAP President Joan Otomo-Corgel, DDS, MPH. “There are more than 500 bacterial species that can be found in plaque, and brushing alone does not remove the bacteria that live below the gum line. The good news about periodontal disease is, with proper and timely care, it’s treatable and often reversible. If a person is at risk for periodontal disease, a periodontist has the training and expertise to determine the best course of treatment.”

The new survey revealed a list of unpleasant activities Americans would choose over flossing, such as washing a sink full of dirty dishes (18%) or waiting in a long check-out line (14%). Nearly one in 10 US adults would rather sit in gridlock traffic for an hour or do their taxes (9% each).

Healthiest mouths by state, region
The survey also revealed some regional distinctions in oral health care. Among the top 10 US markets, Chicagoans are more likely than those in other regions to opt for an hour of gridlock traffic over daily flossing. However, New Yorkers are more likely than those in other metro areas to include flossing in their personal care routine.

Those who live in Atlanta are more likely than those in other top metro regions to be honest with their dentist about their flossing routine. Atlanta residents also are more likely than those in other top metro regions to tell friends when they have something stuck in their teeth. On the contrary, those who live in DC are more likely than those in other top metro regions not to alert a friend of any potentially embarrassing lunch leftovers.

Oral health and relationships
When it comes to relationships, those with and without partners should take note. Three in five (60%) US adults who have a partner say their partner’s oral health (e.g., teeth, gums, breath) has an effect on their intimacy, while over a third of Americans say a smile is the first thing they notice when meeting someone they are attracted to. In fact, more than two in five (40%) of those living in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Boston say a smile is the first thing they notice when meeting someone they are attracted to.

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