Pop quiz: How often should you floss?
If you think twice a week sounds about right, you’re like most Americans surveyed in the American Dental Association’s first oral health quiz. And you’d be wrong, as they were, about that and many other dental basics, netting them the lowly grade of “D” on the quiz.
The ADA released the survey results along with the launch of mouthhealthy.org, which aims to bring oral health enlightenment to the masses. You can take a modified version of the quiz on the site.
Here are some common misconceptions people have about their teeth, according to the ADA’s survey of 1,500 adults, which was conducted in May.
Survey says: 90 percent of respondents believe they should brush after every meal.
ADA says: Brush only twice a day.
Survey says: 65 percent of respondents believe they should replace their toothbrush twice a year.
ADA says: Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles become frayed.
Survey says: 81 percent of respondents think that sugar causes cavities.
ADA says: Cavities are caused by germs in the mouth that feed on sugar and then produce acid that attacks tooth enamel. In time, the acid attacks weaken the enamel to the point where a cavity forms.
Survey says: 59 percent of respondents don’t realize cavity-causing germs can be passed from person to person.
ADA says: Parents and caregivers can pass bacteria that cause cavities to their children by prechewing food, sharing utensils or licking a pacifier to clean it.
Survey says: 53 percent of respondents think you should floss twice a week.
ADA says: Floss once a day. Germs can grow between the teeth and cause decay and gum disease.
Survey says: 67 percent of respondents think refined sugars are more harmful to teeth than natural sugars.
ADA says: All sugar can promote tooth decay. The frequency of exposure, such as sipping any kind of sugary beverage, increases decay risk.