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Survey Shows Americans' Views on Dental Hygiene Differ by Region

Lifestyles - 12 hours 53 min ago
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Does where you live impact your flossing and dental hygiene habits? A new national survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) shows it does.

For instance, while more than a quarter of adults surveyed said they lied to their dentists about how often they floss their teeth, those who live in Atlanta (82 percent) are more likely to be honest about how often they floss. Could that be Southern manners at play?

Conversely, one in five, or 20 percent, of Chicagoans said they would rather sit in an hour of the city's notorious gridlock traffic than floss daily. In D.C., less than one in five participants, or 18 percent, said they would let a friend know if they had something in their teeth.

Other key survey findings by geographic region:

* Three in five (60 percent) of U.S. adults, including New Yorkers, who have a partner say their partner's oral health has an effect on their intimacy.

* Twenty percent of Houstonians guessed incorrectly when asked what a periodontist treat-ed versus a majority of those in other metro areas.

* Almost half of those in Los Angeles (45 percent) and Boston (44 percent) are more likely than those who live in Chicago or Houston to say a smile is the first thing they notice when meeting someone they are attracted to.

* 21 percent of Philadelphians would rather wait in a long check-out line than floss.

So, while the survey indicates oral health habits may differ from region to region, it also clearly shows that Americans do have one thing in common -- we all don't floss as frequently as we should.

While flossing should only take an extra minute or two each day, it would appear it's more than we're willing to give. There are more than 500 bacterial species that can be found in dental plaque, which brushing alone won't remove, so that should be incentive enough to get flossing.

Whatever the reason for our reluctance to floss, there are benefits to showing your teeth a little love, according to the AAP.

The most obvious is that flossing prevents plaque, and those 500 bacterial species, from building up below the gum line, causing swelling and eventually leading to periodontal disease. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to a host of oral health issues such as receding gums, tooth decay and tooth loss, and is even linked to other chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The good news is that periodontal disease is preventable by brushing at least twice a day, flossing once a day and receiving an annual comprehensive periodontal evaluation. If you are at risk for or have gum disease, a periodontist has the specialized training and expertise for the right treatment.

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