Study Finds Americans Need to "Brush Up" at the Office
Healthy teeth affect nearly every aspect of our lives – even our professional image. However, according to a survey released by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) and Oral-B Laboratories, many Americans are neglecting to take care of their smile during the workday.
Oral-B Laboratories and the AGD polled more than 1,000 full-time employed adults ages 18 and older about oral care habits and the importance of a healthy smile at the workplace.
The survey found that more than three-quarters of respondents are eating twice or more a day at the workplace, while only 14 percent of respondents are brushing every day at work. Yet, while many respondents indicated that they are overlooking oral care at the office, the majority of respondents (40 percent) ranked "smile" as the first thing they noticed about a person at work.
An overwhelming majority – 96 percent – thought that a smile was very or somewhat important to a person's appearance. Furthermore, 32 percent cited "bad breath" as the least attractive trait of their co-workers.
"Those meals and snacks and sugary beverages on the job can increase the likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease," says AGD spokesperson Heidi Hausauer, DDS. "That's why it's important to brush your teeth during the workday, in addition to after breakfast and before bedtime."
According to Dr. Hausauer, the sugars and starches in the food we eat fuel bacterial plaque, resulting in an "acid attack" on tooth enamel. While visible evidence of food may disappear, plaque bacteria continue to grow. Eventually, plaque can build up and harden into tartar. That can lead to gum irritation, gum disease, tooth detachment and ultimately, tooth loss.
"By partnering with the Academy of General Dentistry to conduct the 'Brushing Up at the Office' Survey, we hope to raise awareness about the necessity for better oral care habits at the office," says Marianne Sampogna, associate product manager of Oral-B Laboratories.
The survey also revealed that leaving an extra toothbrush at the office, rather than carrying one with you, increases your likelihood of brushing at work by 65 percent. "Leaving a toothbrush at the office and remembering to brush at work can reduce plaque buildup and keep you smiling for years," Dr. Hausauer says.
Other findings from the study:
Women are the largest group of brushers at the office, with 53 percent brushing at work versus 37 percent of men.
Good dental hygiene in general means better oral hygiene at work. Those who brush three or more times per day are the most likely to brush at work, totaling 71 percent. Good dental hygiene was also shown to be important in the workplace, considering that virtually all respondents reported interacting with others while on the job. More than 80 percent of respondents interact with co-workers, and 76 percent of respondents are interacting occasionally or frequently with people outside the company, such as customers and vendors.
The "Brushing Up at the Office" Survey was commissioned by Oral-B Laboratories in conjunction with the AGD and conducted by International Communications Research. A total of 1,023 full-time employed adults ages 18 and older were surveyed in April 1997.
Updated: February 2007