Unum finds many adults brush off tooth brushing guidelines

Baton Rouge, LA. (October 16, 2019) — One third of U.S. adults are under- or over-brushing their teeth according to new research from employee benefits leader Unum (NYSE: UNM). In an August online poll of 1,200 working adults, 17% of survey respondents reported brushing their teeth for about a minute – just half the time recommended by dental experts, while an additional 13% reported brushing for about four minutes or more – twice the recommended time.

“These results suggest people could benefit from more dental health education,” said Unum Dental Director Jim Di Marino, DMD. “The general recommendation is brushing twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste.” 

The amount of time spent brushing is essential for good oral health according to the American Dental Association (ADA). An August review of oral studies in International Journal of Dental Hygiene found brushing twice a day for two minutes can remove enough plaque and food debris to maintain dental health for the average adult. Plaque contains oral bacteria that can causes gum disease and tooth decay.

In addition, some dental experts warn about over-brushing. Brushing too hard or for too long may damage tooth enamel and irritate gums. Ideally, brushing times should be around two minutes unless otherwise instructed by a dentist or healthcare professional. 

“It is important to note that brushing alone cannot keep a mouth healthy,” said Dr. Di Marino. “Proper oral-care routines should also include flossing and regular dental visits twice a year to prevent major dental health problems.”

The cost of preventive dental services may stop some people from regularly visiting a dentist, but dental insurance can help reduce those costs. Group dental plans – purchased through the workplace – typically cover the costs of cleanings and other preventive services. As enrollment season begins, this time of year presents the perfect opportunity for workers to think about their oral health and dental coverage to help establish a proper oral-care routine.

Learn more about maintaining overall and dental benefits from Unum.


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About Unum Group

Unum (NYSE: UNM), an international provider of workplace benefits and services, has been helping workers and their families for more than 170 years. Through its Unum and Colonial Life brands, the company offers disability, life, accident, critical illness, dental, vision and stop-loss insurance; leave and absence management support and behavioral health services. In 2021, Unum reported revenues of $12.0 billion and paid $8.2 billion in benefits. The Fortune 500 company is one of the 2022 World’s Most Ethical Companies, recognized by Ethisphere®.


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