Survey Finds Shortcomings in Illinoisans' Dental Health Habits

Posted on September 30, 2014 in General oral health

October is National Dental Hygiene Month, a good time to focus on improving dental health habits. A recent survey by Delta Dental of Illinois found that Illinoisans could benefit from showing extra attention to one habit in particular: brushing.

More than seven of 10 Illinoisans (71 percent) brush their teeth at least twice a day, the amount recommended by the American Dental Association and other dental health professionals. However, that means nearly 30 percent of Illinoisans aren't brushing enough, according to Dr. Katina Spadoni, dental director for Delta Dental of Illinois.

In addition, nearly 30 percent of Illinoisans have gone two or more days without brushing their teeth in the past year. And when they do brush, nearly four in ten Illinoisans don't brush for the recommended two minutes.

“It's best if people brush twice a day for two minutes each time,” says Spadoni. “But if they are unable to for some reason, we want to be sure the time they spend brushing really counts by reaching all areas of the mouth.”

According to Spadoni, there are many acceptable tooth brushing methods, but one way to assure the entire mouth gets cleaned is by starting with the outer surfaces of the upper and lower teeth. Then follow with the inner surfaces of the upper and lower teeth, and finally the chewing surfaces. For fresher breath, be sure to brush the tongue as well.

As for the brushing tools, Spadoni recommends using an electric or manual brush with soft-bristles, which are pliable enough to reach in between teeth without hurting the gums. A toothbrush should be replaced when it begins to show wear or at least every three months. For toothpaste, any kind that contains fluoride is acceptable.

Fun Brushing Statistics

The Delta Dental of Illinois Oral Health and Well-Being Survey also found some interesting facts about Illinoisans' brushing habits.

  • More than six of 10 Illinoisans brush their teeth at bedtime and as soon as they wake up in the morning, while 35 percent brush after breakfast. About 19 percent brush after lunch, and 14 percent brush after dinner.
  • Eighty-six percent of Illinoisans brush most frequently at home in their bathrooms over the sink. However, about 9 percent say they most frequently brush in the shower.
  • One-third of Illinoisans have made their partners brush their teeth before a kiss. Men were less likely to require brushing before kissing.

“Delta Dental of Illinois sponsored the Oral Health and Well-Being Survey to shine a spotlight on the importance of oral health in Illinois,” says Spadoni. “As leaders in oral health, we have long known its importance for basic daily activities involving the mouth, like brushing and flossing, and the link between oral health and overall health.


1Morpace, Inc. conducted the Delta Dental of Illinois Oral Health and Well-Being Survey on behalf of Delta Dental of Illinois with 151 consumers across the state.