Survey: Oral Health More Important To Americans Than Weight, Mental Health, Exercise

NEW YORK — Forget about having a bad hair day. Nothing is worse than a bad teeth day, apparently. A new survey shows that Americans worry about their oral health and hygiene more than any other aspect of their appearance.

Researchers on behalf of the Sensodyne toothpaste line Pronamel say that of 2,000 adults polled, teeth topped hair as their greatest concern when it comes to how they look. One’s weight, skin concerns, and clothing choice rounded out the top five worries.

Similarly, the condition of one’s teeth was also found to be the most common source of embarrassment (45%) for respondents, with weight (41%) and hair (30%) also making many people feel self-conscious.

And while it seems that exercise routines and improving mental health are often the focus of our favorite lifestyle magazines, the study shows that Americans also rate oral health (83%) as their number-one health-related priority. Mental health (78%) was next on the list, followed by exercise (74%) and diet (71%).

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So it should be no surprise then that participants were more likely to brush their teeth twice a day (64%) than they were to stretch before or after a workout (49%), apply sunblock when outside (34%), or meditate (30%). The obsession over a bright white smile — or at least avoiding yellow teeth — is one of the more common motivators for the behavior; but Chris Concerto, a senior brand manager with Pronamel, warns that too many adults aren’t aware of things they’re still doing to worsen the health and appearance of their teeth.

“Teeth can sometimes be an overlooked part of our self-care regimen. Many times, just daily brushing and regular dentist visits feel like enough. However, eating healthy foods such as green juices, grapefruits, and other acidic foods can do a number on a tooth’s enamel,” Concerto explains in a statement.

Concerto says the study revealed that nearly four in 10 participants (35%) aren’t even sure why it’s important to repair and maintain enamel, or that it protects our teeth from plaque and decay. From a financial standpoint, healthy enamel can help ensure you won’t be making any other trips to the dentist besides your regular checkups.

But only half of those surveyed knew that consuming acidic foods and drinks — such as wine, green juices, and salad dressing — can lead to enamel erosion, and eventually yellow teeth.

As for the top oral health priorities for participants, cleanliness of their teeth came first (65%), followed by health of teeth (63%), the smell of their breath (47%), cavity protection (47%) and whiteness (39%)

The survey was conducted by market research firm OnePoll in January 2019.

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