Largest worldwide consumer oral health awareness survey reveals the best toothbrushers, worst habits and most smile satisfaction

08 September 2021

A new worldwide consumer oral health awareness survey across 15 countries including has revealed an amazing snapshot of oral health, habits, concerns and desires across the globe.

In the largest survey of its kind totalling 15,000 respondents, findings range from the countries best at brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, to the top worst dental habits and most common dental issues.

The inaugural 2021 Global Healthy Thinking Report by international oral healthcare company, Sunstar, with brands including GUM, Butler and Ora2, also provides insight into which countries have seen the worst oral health impact during the pandemic, which countries are looking after their teeth best, and those who have the best smile satisfaction.

The summary worldwide findings include:

Most and least oral health issues – Thailand has the most and worst problems with oral health, just 1 in ten have no problems and just 5% are happy with their teeth. The UK ranked the highest, 40%, for not having any problems with their teeth.

Worst habits you would like to give up – Germany and Spain ranked equally the highest at 27% for smoking as the worst habit harmful to their dental health. 22% of Italians, Indonesians and Brazilians said drinking coffee, tea and staining drinks was their worst habit, while China ranks highest for sweets as their worst habit, 31%.

Most forgetful toothbrushers – Indonesians were the most forgetful at brushing their teeth, 45%, while Brazil ranked next highest at 40%. 33% of Italians, Argentinians and Britons said they never forget to brush their teeth. Germans forget the least, 20%.

Best for cleaning between teeth – China leads the way on cleaning between teeth at 21%, followed by Italy, 20% and Spain 18%. Indonesia ranked the lowest at just 7% for those who use an interdental cleaner, electric airflosser or floss.

Smile satisfaction – People in the Netherlands are the happiest with their teeth, and 18% would not want any cosmetic treatment to improve their smile. While just 5% of Thai, Spanish, Italians and Brazilians said they would not choose one cosmetic smile treatment. The US was one of the lowest, only 7% said they would not want any cosmetic treatment and are happy with their teeth.

Understanding of the mouth/body link – 76% of Argentinians understood smoking affected dental health, while just 39% of Singaporeans understood the mouth/body link. While the Japanese have the best understanding that dental health can also affect life expectancy, 38%, just 12% of British do.

Which countries reported most bad breath? Asian countries reported bad breath when describing their oral health more commonly than elsewhere in the world, with the worst in Japan, 34%. Brazil reported the least, just 8%. In Europe, bad breath is most common in Italy, 15% and least in the UK, 10%.

Which countries have seen the worst oral health impact during the pandemic? Argentinians have missed the most dental appointments during the pandemic, 44%. Just 12% of Japan have missed dental appointments, the lowest worldwide. Americans said they have experienced more tooth sensitivity during the pandemic, 25%. Indonesians ranked highest, 45%, for choosing to now clean their teeth more regularly as a result, followed by China at 38%.

Comments Martijn Verhulst, Medical Liaison Manager, Sunstar Scientific Affairs, on the survey findings: “We are proud to have conducted this largest survey of its kind to further our knowledge into consumer oral health.

“Positive findings included the numbers of people worldwide who are keeping their mouth healthy and fresh by brushing their teeth twice a day, using fluoride toothpaste and tongue brushing.

“But there did seem to be less understanding globally of the overall mouth/health link and the impact oral health has on your overall well-being, or how habits like smoking can impact your oral health. While this link is better known in Japan, for example at Sunstar we say “100 years mouth, 100 years health”, there does seem to be a need for greater understanding of this connection.

“We strongly advise that consumers get their teeth checked twice a year by a qualified professional to assess their oral health and any dental decay or gum disease. Regular dental checks are also important for identifying any issues early and before they can cause wider harm. A reputable dentist is also likely to spot signs of other medical conditions such as oral cancer or even diabetes if they can monitor your oral health frequently.”

About the research:

A copy of the 2021 Sunstar Global Healthy Thinking report containing all the survey findings and analysis can be downloaded here.

15 countries surveyed across Europe, North/South America and Asia comprising;

– UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Netherlands

– US, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil

– Japan, China, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia

(Nationally representative sample, 1,000 minimum per country, 18-65 age group, equal gender split).