Dental Dilemma: Americans Failing at Flossing, Balking at Brushing

We should all go to the dentist at least once a year, but a new report says adults get a "C" grade when it comes to oral hygiene. The bad news is, kids may be graded even worse. Adults who don't practice good oral hygiene will pass that on to their kids, and that may lead to a real dental dilemma in the future.

Dr. David Johnson is a pediatric dentist. He and his staff see around 60 kids a day. They look to make sure their patient's teeth are coming in okay, and that they're practicing good oral hygiene.

They also fill a lot of cavities, that's why 6-year-old Timothy Heinsman is there. Timothy says, "Because I had to get a white filling." Even though it's Timothy's second cavity, he's still on the right track to good dental hygiene. For too many adults, oral hygiene wasn't a lesson they learned in childhood.

Cherie Hillman of Scott City says, "It wasn't that way when I was a kid. My parents couldn't afford it. I only went to the dentist when I had a tooth ache." Debbie Profilet of Jackson says, "When I was young, I didn't go to the dentist, but I did raise my children to go regularly."

Teaching your children to go to the dentist regularly is an important lesson that Dr. Johnson says parents need to teach. "A lot of people think that things like this are hereditary, but it's not necessarily as much hereditary, but that the child is in the same environment as family members and they do the same things they do."

Oral hygiene has gotten so bad, that the US government wants to make up a national oral health plan, that will teach people what happens inside your mouth, is just as important as what happens in other parts of your body.

Not seeing your dentist regularly doesn't just lead to cavities, it can lead to much more serious consequences. Dr. Johnson says, "It can lead to fractures and broken bones. An infected tooth can lead to very serious problems, you can get a brain infection and die." Serious consequences that can be avoided, if you follow the steps of kids like Timothy, and get on the right track. Another thing that could affect dental care in the Heartland is Governor Bob Holden is proposing to cut dental and eye coverage for low-income adults covered by Medicaid.