Patients Report Better Oral Health in 2019. Why?

47% of people consider that the state of their oral health improved in 2019 compared to the year before. The results come from DentaVox survey “Oral Health Summary 2019”, which presents a recap of habits, condition and common issues for last year.

Respondents attribute the positive change mainly to becoming more aware of how to take care of teeth. Oral hygiene routines and timely treatment are other aspects recognized as key drivers of improvement.

Moreover, the results indicate that people with better oral health are persistent when it comes to visiting the dentist regularly. The majority of them follow and even exceed the general recommendations for the frequency of check-ups and at-office teeth cleaning.

Reasons for better oral health
Better oral care knowledge is cited as the number one reason to achieve improved dental health in 2019. In line with previous research, this finding highlights the importance of oral health promotion. It is beyond the scope of the survey format to prove a cause-and-effect relationship. However, it can be argued that awareness is at the basis of positive change in oral health status. And this is not surprising since it encompasses awareness on a broad range of oral care activities from healthy eating through hygiene routines to timely treatment.

Frequency of dental check-ups
Many dental and health organizations recommend that people at low risk of oral diseases should go for examination twice per year to maintain a healthy smile. Results from the survey show that the majority of people with improved dental health followed the recommendation. Moreover, 42% of them went for check-ups more frequently. Their behavior may be a sign of more commitment to prevention. It is interesting to note that a previous study found that people who have the habit of visiting the dentist only when problems occur have poorer oral health than regular visitors.

Number of professional teeth cleanings
The majority of respondents with better oral health had at least one professional teeth cleaning in 2019. A large share of them went for the procedure twice and even more. Moreover, it is quite evident that only a small fraction of respondents who enjoyed better outcomes in 2019 did not go for the procedure.

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It is more controversial if more frequent procedures further improved results. While many dentists still advise on 2 teeth cleanings per year as general guidance, there is skepticism on the grounds for this. According to a study in the United States, more than once per year may not lead to better outcomes for low-risk patients, while biannual cleanings are not sufficient for people with more than one risk factor.

Dental treatment visits
Overall, there is no clear pattern in the number of times people attended the dentist for treatment. A similar share of respondents falls into three of the groups: with one visit for treatment, two visits and three to five. Nevertheless, only 4% didn’t go for treatment and 15% went more than 5 times. We should note that most likely these results depend also on the old and new issues that required attention in the period.

Dentists of their choice: regular or new
People with improved oral health seem to be loyal to their regular dentist with 85% of them not switching to a new provider. In comparison, according to results from a previous DentaVox survey on dentist-patient relationships 77% if participants have a regular dentist. Does patient loyalty lead to better outcomes or vice-versa? It is hard to say but we might argue that finding the right dentist is a key element to improving oral health.

Survey: Oral Health Summary 2019
Base: 396 respondents (global sample)
Period: 29/12/2019-22/02/2020