Survey for World Oral Health Day 2017, exposes truth about actual oral health habits

Survey for World Oral Health Day exposes truth about actual oral health habits 

GENEVA, Switzerland: Today on World Oral Health Day (WOHD), FDI World Dental Federation is busting myths regarding oral health practices, encouraging people to become better informed and take better care of their mouths. The results of an online survey carried out in 12 countries among 12,849 adults have indicated a significant gap between what people believe to be good dental hygiene habits versus what they actually do and what is recommended by oral health experts.


In eight of the countries surveyed, 50 per cent or more of the respondents said they thought it is important to brush one’s teeth straight after every main meal. This incorrect oral health practice was worst in Brazil, Mexico, Egypt and Poland (84, 81, 62 and 60 per cent, respectively). FDI recommends waiting at least 30 minutes after eating to brush one’s teeth to avoid weakening tooth enamel.

“These survey results highlight an alarming discrepancy between knowledge and actual good oral health practices,” said FDI President Dr Patrick Hescot. “We want everyone to take control of their oral health this World Oral Health Day and understand that by adopting good oral hygiene habits, avoiding risk factors and having a regular dental check-up, they can help protect their mouths. A healthy mouth allows us to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow and convey a range of emotions with confidence and without pain, discomfort and disease. Good oral health matters and translates to a better quality of life.”

The respondents in the majority of the countries surveyed incorrectly believed that rinsing one’s mouth with water after brushing is important. This myth was found to be the greatest among the participants from Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, India and Canada (77, 75, 73, 67 and 67 per cent, respectively). It is actually recommended not to rinse with water straight after brushing to allow maximum exposure to fluoride, which will optimise the preventative effects. 

Nearly half of the respondents surveyed in India, South Africa, Brazil and Poland (52, 49, 48 and 42 per cent, respectively) thought that drinking fruit juice rather than fizzy drinks was better for good oral health. Fruit juice, however, can also be high in sugar, which causes dental caries. FDI recommends keeping consumption of sugary beverages to a minimum as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Dr Edoardo Cavalle, WOHD Task Team Chair, stated: “Understanding good oral health practices and adopting them early in life will help to maintain optimal oral health into old age and ensure you live a long life free from physical pain and often emotional suffering caused by oral disease.”

Other key findings on oral health practices included the following:

  • Seventy-seven per cent of people surveyed agreed that visiting a dentist once per year is a good oral health practice, but only 52 per cent actually did so.
  • Only 28 per cent of respondents identified drinking alcohol in moderation as important for good oral health.

The survey was carried out by YouGov on behalf of FDI. It was undertaken between 20 and 31 January 2017. The figures were weighted and are nationally representative of all adults aged 18 and older in Great Britain (2,090), the US (1,145), Australia (1,018), New Zealand (1,055), Japan (1,006) and Canada (1,002); nationally representative, based around areas, of all adults aged 18 and older in Brazil (1,000), Mexico (1,006), Poland (1,004) and South Africa (500); representative of all adults aged 18 and older living in urban areas in India (1,011) and Egypt (1012).

WOHD is celebrated annually on 20 March. It was initiated in 2013 by FDI to raise worldwide awareness of the prevention and control of oral disease. WOHD is supported by global partners Henry Schein, Philips Sonicare and Unilever.

More information about WOHD can be found at The WOHD brochure as well as a number of campaign posters and social media memes can also be downloaded at the FDI website free of charge.