Survey: Many U.S. adults not aware of cavity prevention control

By Tony Edwards, DrBicuspid.com editor in chief

February 9, 2016 -- Over 40% of more than 1,000 U.S. adults surveyed believe they have little or no control over whether they get a cavity, according to a new Children's Dental Health Project (CDHP) survey released February 4.

In fact, only 57% of respondents even believe they have "significant control" over getting a cavity. Significant control is the combination of two categories on the survey: total control and a lot of control.

The survey also found that at least 40% of adults answered incorrectly to the following statements:

  • "The bacteria that cause tooth decay can be transmitted from a parent to a child."
  • "The sugar in natural fruit juice can contribute to childhood cavities."
  • "A parent should begin brushing their child's teeth as soon as they appear in the mouth." In fact, 41% responded that parents should begin brushing their child's teeth at 3 years.

"Only 43% of adults surveyed believe they have much control over whether they get a cavity," stated Meg Booth, CDHP's executive director, in a press release. "We need to remind families that they have more control than they realize, and prevention starts long before children enter school. We all need to give families the knowledge and tools that support the habits that will put children on a lifelong path of oral health."

Survey results

The survey was conducted in December 2015 among more than 1,000 U.S. adults 18 years and older.

“We need to remind families that they have more control than they realize, and prevention starts long before children enter school.”
— Meg Booth, CDHP executive director

When asked, "Which of the following is the most common chronic health condition affecting U.S. children and teens?" 8 out of 10 respondents stated obesity, with only 7% citing tooth decay. Diabetes also scored higher than tooth decay at 9%.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic health condition of childhood, and it is also two to three times more common than childhood asthma or obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The correct response rate fell to 4% among adults earning less than $35,000, the CDHP noted.

In addition, 9% also responded that the statement "Pregnant women should not receive a dental exam or get a cavity filled" is true, while 14% responded that it was true that those who "regularly brush with fluoride toothpaste don't benefit from drinking fluoridated water."

Matt Jacob, CDHP's director of communications, told DrBicuspid.com there were some positives.

"There were a few silver linings to our survey," Jacob said. "For example, it was encouraging to see that 86% of those surveyed felt that drinking fluoridated water is beneficial even for those who brush regularly with fluoride toothpaste."

New website

The CHDP has launched a new website, EndCavities.org, to give policymakers, healthcare professionals, and others information and possible strategies. The website includes fact sheets, infographics, an issue brief, and video content. The site was created by CDHP with financial support from Colgate-Palmolive.

Web tool may bring primary care screenings to dental offices
Researchers have created an online support system to help hygienists provide basic primary care screenings at the dental office. The tool advises hygienists...
JADA: Dental team should screen for pediatric obesity
Oral healthcare professionals are uniquely positioned to be part of an interprofessional effort to intervene in the pediatric obesity problem, according...
EHRs and the integration of dental and medical care
In this Second Opinion, Colin Reusch of the Children's Dental Health Project makes the common-sense case for how integration of both medical and oral...
CDHP convenes dental sealant work group
The Children's Dental Health Project (CDHP) is convening a national sealant work group to provide recommendations for the design and operations of school...
8 states join oral health initiative for pregnant women
Eight states will join a federally funded initiative to raise awareness and improve access to oral healthcare for pregnant women and infants, the Children's...

Copyright © 2016 DrBicuspid.com

Last Updated np 2/7/2016 8:15:05 PM

3 comments so far ...
2/9/2016 12:29:10 PM
Not only are many American adults ignorant of these facts but so are the school teachers.....and many physicians.

2/9/2016 1:17:21 PM
The survey shows that understanding the cause of dental decay is much less than any of us would like to think.  It places a strong emphasis that we cannot let down our guard as a profession over the proven safe and beneficial public health measures that are in place.
Community water fluoridation (CWF) is a passive public health measure.  Everyone that simply drinks fluoridated water is going to reap the benefits of it.
Community water fluoridation is:
1. SAFE:  CWF has never been shown to be related to any adverse health effects in anyone.  
2. EFFECTIVE:  CWF reduces cavities by at least 25% for ADULTS and children over their lifetimes.  These reductions are across the board, regardless of socioeconomic status, age, race ethnicity, level of education, or access to dental care.
3. COST SAVING:  For most communities, for every $1 invested in CWF, $43 in dental treatment costs are avoided per year per person.  
4. REDUCES NUMBER AND SEVERITY OF CAVITIES: CWF reduces the pain, suffering, number of cavities, and the severity of cavities by simply drinking the water.
Cavities are a multi-factorial process.  Education plays a huge role, as does brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, a diet low in sticky sweets, dental sealants, regular dental care, and community water fluoridation.

Thank you for writing this outstanding Editorial.  It points out that succinctly that people are in support of CWF by an overwhelming majority.  Adults are the huge benefactors of CWF.
Johnny Johnson, Jr., DMD,MS
President, American Fluoridation Society
Pediatric Dentist
Diplomate American Board of Pediatric Dentistry

2/13/2016 10:03:39 AM
This week alone there were 4 news stories run nationally about prevention and treatment using Diammine Silver Fluoride. West Palm Beach, Houston, Jacksonville, and Bend. These stories got in front of millions of people. The profession is going to change, it has to or there will be a new profession to emerge to disrupt the old one. Thats how things work. Im excited to be part of the disruption and to start a dialogue with the 50% of America that has abandoned US dentistry.