Delta Dental News Room


Delta Dental Finds American Children Need to Brush More Often, Longer

During National Smile Month, Survey Reveals Gap Between Reported and Recommended Dental Hygiene Habits


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OAK BROOK, Ill. (June 14, 2012) - Poor and infrequent brushing may be the biggest obstacle keeping children from good oral health. That's one of the key findings from a recent survey1 of American children's oral health, conducted on behalf of Delta Dental Plans Association, the nation's leading dental benefits provider.

While nearly two out of five Americans (37 percent) report that their child's overall oral health is excellent, more than a third of survey respondents (35 percent) admit their child brushes less than twice a day. Parents recognize this frequency as "not enough," despite the fact that nearly all of those surveyed (96 percent) with children up to age 6 say they supervise or assist with brushing.

Among those who rate their child's oral health as less than excellent, only 56 percent say their child brushes for at least 2 minutes, which is the amount of time dentists typically recommend spending on each brushing.

While the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry recommends daily flossing, nearly half (48 percent) of the survey respondents whose children have teeth say they have never been flossed; only 22 percent report their child's teeth are flossed daily.

Make Brushing Fun

Getting small children to brush properly can be a challenge, but here are some ideas that can help:

"There's clearly a need for more frequent and better education to teach practices that will ensure lifelong oral health," said Dr. Bill Kohn, DDS, Delta Dental's vice president for dental science and policy. "Since people overwhelmingly prefer the dentist as their primary source for oral health information, dental benefits that encourage preventive dental visits are crucial."

About Delta Dental Plans Association

The not-for-profit Delta Dental Plans Association (, based in Oak Brook, IL, is the leading national network of independent dental service corporations. It provides dental benefits programs to more than 56 million Americans in more than 95,000 employee groups throughout the country. For more oral health news and information from Dr. Kohn and DDPA, subscribe to our blog and follow us on Twitter.


1Morpace Inc. conducted the 2011 Delta Dental Children's Oral Health Survey. Interviews were conducted by email nationally with 907 primary caregivers of children from birth to age 11. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of error is +/-3.25 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.