Objectives: This investigation examined current practices of brushing, flossing, and periodic dental visits and their association with periodontal health status.
Methods: Data were collected using face-to-face interviews and 40-minute in-home dental examinations with a probability sample of adults 18 years of age or older, having at least one tooth, and living in housing units in the Detroit tricounty area. Complete examinations were performed on 319 individuals.
Results: On average, subjects reported brushing their teeth about twice a day. About one-third of the population reported flossing at least once a day. Loss of periodontal attachment was related to frequency of brushing while subjects who exhibited acceptable flossing ability had less plaque and calculus, shallower pocket depths, and less attachment loss. Subjects reporting a periodic dental visit at least once a year had less plaque, gingivitis, and calculus than subjects reporting less frequent visits. In regression analyses, brushing thoroughness, flossing ability and frequency, and dental visit frequency were predictors of lower plaque, gingivitis, and calculus scores. In turn, these scores were predictors of shallower pocket depths and less attachment loss.
Conclusions: Brushing, flossing, and periodic dental visits were correlated with better periodontal health. The behaviors appeared to be indirectly related to pocket depth and attachment loss through their associations with plaque, gingivitis, and calculus levels.