Survey shows global snapshot of oral health

By Leah Sherwood, DrBicuspid.com assistant editor

September 9, 2021 -- A new survey presents a global snapshot of oral health, revealing everything from which country has the best brushing habits to which reports the most dental issues. The findings were published in a report by oral healthcare company Sunstar on September 8.

For the key habit of brushing teeth twice a day, the U.K. emerged as the top country: 63% of respondents reported they brush their teeth twice a day and 47% said they do so with fluoride toothpaste. Perhaps not coincidentally, U.K. respondents were also the most likely to report having no issues with dental and oral health. In the U.S., by comparison, 40% of respondents reported brushing their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

Worldwide, the top excuses for not brushing teeth were forgetting, wanting to go straight to bed, and being in a rush in the morning. The most forgetful tooth-brushers were the Indonesians (45%), while the least forgetful were the Germans (20%). The Chinese respondents were the most likely to admit to skipping brushing after drinking alcohol.

"Positive findings included the numbers of people ... brushing their teeth twice a day, using fluoride toothpaste and tongue brushing," said Martijn Verhulst, PhD, medical liaison manager at Sunstar, in a statement. "But there did seem to be less understanding globally of the overall mouth/health link and the impact oral health has on your overall well-being, or how habits like smoking can impact your oral health."

Many of the 15,000 respondents cited habits they would like to give up in order to improve their oral health. Such habits included eating sweets (20% of respondents), smoking ( 20%), and consuming tooth-staining drinks such as coffee, tea, and red wine (18%).

Tooth sensitivity was identified as the top oral health problem worldwide, beating out gum inflammation, tooth erosion, and regular mouth ulcers, based on the responses. Globally, only 21% of respondents knew there was a link between overall life expectancy and dental health.

The survey also asked how the COVID-19 pandemic had affected respondents' lifestyles and oral hygiene habits. Of the 15,000 respondents, 27% said they were brushing their teeth more and 22% said they were using mouthwash more regularly.


Click image to enlarge.

Image courtesy of Sunstar.


Image courtesy of Sunstar.

Other results included the following:

  • Thailand reported the highest amount (37%) of tooth sensitivity; it also had the most and worst problems with oral health, even ranking first in "mask breath." Only 5% of the country's respondents were happy with their dental health.
  • Germans were the most likely to visit the dentist regularly, with 45% of respondents going twice a year.
  • The Dutch were happiest with their teeth out of all the populations surveyed.

Sunstar's 2021 oral health awareness survey included 15,000 respondents from 15 countries: Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, the U.K., and the U.S. Respondents were between the ages of 18 and 65, with about 1,000 participants from each country.

The company's "Global Healthy Thinking Report" provides a summary of global key findings and a detailed synopsis for each country. The survey responses showed that, overall, the global population is invested in oral and dental health; however, individual dental and oral health and relative priorities vary among the regions.


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