National Smile Month in June is a great time to celebrate the power of a smile. New Delta Dental of Illinois surveys find that smiles significantly impact Illinoisans of all ages.1,2 As well as improving confidence and happiness, a smile can affect everything from success to overall health.
Oral health is connected to overall health and physical well-being. According to Delta Dental of Illinois’ survey, Illinoisans who gave their oral health an excellent rating are more than twice as likely to report excellent or very good physical well-being.
Illinoisans say smiles can affect success. In fact, more than half (56 percent) of Illinoisans think the quality of their smile has some bearing on success. And 8 in 10 (80 percent) say a smile can make or break a first impression.
The benefits of a healthy smile – such as improved health – begin at a young age. But it requires regular good oral health habits. From infancy, caregivers should pay close attention to their children’s oral health. Once the first tooth comes in, it should be brushed. Teeth should be flossed once any two teeth are touching. And dentist visits should begin by age 1.
Until kids are age seven or eight, parents should assist with brushing and flossing. It’s also important to help kids maintain a good diet rich in vitamins and keep soda and other sugary beverages to a minimum.
Good oral health is just as important for adults as children, but aging can present additional oral health needs. Without proper care, older adults may experience tooth loss and wearing down of tissue and bone. Additionally, medications can cause dry mouth and lead to tooth decay and other oral health issues.
No matter your age, oral health problems can be prevented with proper dental hygiene habits. However, our surveys show there are some areas in which Illinoisans of all ages can work on to improve their oral health.
Brushing more: Illinoisans are lacking on the basic oral health habit of brushing. Teeth should be brushed for two minutes twice a day. Yet, more than 4 in 10 (43 percent) of Illinois parents say their child’s teeth are brushed once a day or less often. One third (33 percent) of Illinois adults don’t brush their teeth the recommended two times each day, and nearly 2 in 3 (64 percent) skip a brushing at least once per month.
Flossing regularly: Flossing once a day is important to remove plaque buildup between teeth that can’t be reached by brushing. Although important to help prevent cavities, nearly 3 in 4 (72 percent) of Illinois parents say their children’s teeth are flossed less than once a day.
Starting good oral health habits by age 1: Children should visit the dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth comes in, but only nine percent of Illinois parents took their children to the dentist by their first birthday. In Illinois, the average age for a child’s first dental visit was 2 ½ years old.2 Establishing good oral health habits at an early age, such as visiting the dentist, helps ensure a healthy smile for a lifetime.
Visiting the dentist regularly: In the past year, 35 percent of Illinois adults visited the dentist less than one time. Delta Dental of Illinois recommends that adults visit the dentist at least once a year or more frequently, if needed. Visiting the dentist regularly promotes good oral health as well as good overall health. The dentist can detect over 120 health conditions that have symptoms that affect the mouth, such as diabetes and heart disease. In addition, Delta Dental of Illinois’ survey shows that people who visit the dentist regularly are more likely to rate their oral health and overall well-being better than individuals who do not visit the dentist on a regular basis.
1Delta Dental of Illinois Adult Oral Health & Well-Being Survey, 2018.
2 Delta Dental of Illinois Children’s Oral Health Survey, 2018.