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

08 September 2021
3 min read

A new worldwide consumer oral health awareness survey across 15 countries, including the UK, 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.

Findings in the UK include:

  • The UK had the highest number of respondents who said they did not have any problems with their oral health (40 per cent).
  • Britons ranked equally the second least likely (along with the Japanese) to skip brushing their teeth if in a rush in the morning (13 per cent), with Brazilians the least (12 per cent).
  • Britons rank the second best worldwide for visiting the dentist most regularly in normal years (42 per cent), with Germans the best (45 per cent).

Whilst summary worldwide findings include:

Most and least oral health issues – Thailand has the most, and worst, problems with oral health – just one in 10 have no problems, and just five per cent are happy with their teeth. The UK ranked the highest, at 40 per cent, 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 per cent for smoking as the worst habit harmful to their dental health. 22 per cent of Italians, Indonesians and Brazilians said drinking coffee, tea and staining drinks was their worst habit, whilst China ranks highest for sweets as their worst habit, at 31 per cent.

Most forgetful tooth-brushers – Indonesians were the most forgetful at brushing their teeth, at 45 per cent, whilst Brazil ranked next highest at 40 per cent. 33 per cent of Italians, Argentinians and Britons said they never forget to brush their teeth. Germans forget the least, at 20 per cent.

Best for cleaning between teeth – China leads the way on cleaning between teeth at 21 per cent, followed by Italy, 20 per cent and Spain 18 per cent.  Indonesia ranked the lowest at just seven per cent 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 per cent would not want any cosmetic treatment to improve their smile. Meanwhile, just five per cent of Thai, Spanish, Italians and Brazilians said they would not choose one cosmetic smile treatment. The US was one of the lowest, only seven per cent said they would not want any cosmetic treatment and are happy with their teeth.

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

Which countries reported the 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, at 34 per cent. Brazil reported the least, just eight per cent. In Europe, bad breath is most common in Italy, at 15 per cent, and least in the UK, at 10 per cent.

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

Martijn Verhulst, medical liaison manager at Sunstar Scientific Affairs, comments 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.

“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.”

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