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People Still Have a Lot to Learn About How to Treat Their Teeth

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Americans are smart about a lot of things but taking care of their teeth isn’t one of them, according to the first oral health quiz by the American Dental Association.

Grading the responses to various questions from 1,500 adults, the ADA said the overall mark was a “D,” which might explain why 90 percent of people ages 20 to 64 have cavities in their permanent teeth.

Regarding the misconceptions people have about their teeth, the ADA says that nine out of ten adults believe that brushing after every meal is necessary while only two brushings a day are recommended.

Flossing, one of people’s least practiced activities, is important to do once a day, the ADA, says, not a couple of times a week as half the respondents said.

As far as replacing your toothbrush, two-thirds thought that doing it twice a year sufficed while the ADA suggests three-to-four times annually.

Meanwhile, about 75 percent of adults are unsure about what age a child should visit the dentist. The ADA says the rule of thumb is no later than six months after the appearance of the first baby tooth or no later than the first birthday.

One of the most common misconceptions is that sugar causes cavities, held by just over eight of ten of the survey’s respondents. Actually, it’s germs that feed on sugar, which produces the acid that weakens enamel to form cavities.

Speaking of cavity-causing germs, nearly 60 percent of adults aren’t aware that they can passed from person-to-person through pre-chewing food, sharing utensils or licking a pacifier.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio