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I’m sorry to report that of the nearly 1500 people across the US who were tested by the American Dental Association about their knowledge of oral health and hygiene, no one scored higher than 85 percent while the lowest score was only 29 percent. Although most participants could define gingivitis, only 6 percent knew the proper age of when children should be able to brush their own teeth, and only one in four knew when a child should have their first dental visit.

As an orthodontist, I was not surprised to discover that of those surveyed regarding physical attractiveness, a nice smile outweighed skin, eyes, hair and build or figure as the single most important attribute. Eighty five percent of respondents indicated that a good smile is extremely or very important for finding a job, and one in five people have shied away from a social event because of problems with their teeth. If you are interested in learning more about how your own dental IQ compares to the national average, you can visit the website MouthHealthy.org and check out an abbreviated and interactive version of the survey.

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