The loss of a baby tooth was most often cited as the earliest tooth-related memory, but it was not the only one reported. Other respondents listed their earliest memory as having a toothache or eating toothpaste.
"It can be speculated why losing a milk tooth is the most vivid early dental memory," Petya Ivanova, a marketing specialist at Dentacoin Foundation, which powers DentaVox, wrote in a blog post about the results. "It is possible that the many traditions related to it can be contributing to its long lasting effect."
Of the approximately 7,800 adults who participated in the survey between March 18 and May 5, 2021, 37% noted losing a baby tooth as their earliest memory. Most participants (59%) recalled their age at the time of their earliest dental memory as 6 to 10 years.
More than half of respondents (59%) thought of their first dental memory as a positive experience, which could have something to do with getting money from the tooth fairy.
The next most common memories were a little less pleasant: 12% of respondents said they remembered feeling tooth pain, followed by 11% recalling having their teeth brushed. The rest of the adults were nearly evenly split between memories of eating toothpaste and having dental treatment.
Though many of the respondents remembered getting oral care advice, including on using toothpaste and choosing a toothbrush, a conversation about tooth-friendly eating habits did not make the top of the list. This suggests a "potential gap in oral health education from an early age," Ivanova wrote.
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