Flossing while driving, opening bottles with the teeth, ignoring bleeding gums and using hammers, earrings and lollipop sticks to pick teeth.
These are just some of the bad habits revealed by a national dental survey released his week.
It was conducted by the British Dental Health Foundation and Oral B to mark the beginning of National Smile Month (18 May-17 June) – a campaign running simultaneously in the UK and USA.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Foundation, commented: ‘It is National Smile Month but these results do not give people in the UK a great deal to smile about.
‘People are putting themselves at risk with these shocking habits – around 85% of people are completely unaware of the link between the health of the mouth and the health of the body.
‘Gum health, in particular, is very important and has been linked to a range of conditions. However, people are risking their gum health by picking and flossing without paying the necessary care and attention.’
He added: ‘A worrying 13% admit they have flossed while driving, 6% while on a date and a significant number of people have used every day items such as hammers, screwdrivers, scissors and lollipops to pick food from between their teeth – risking cuts and infection.
‘Couple that with the fact that 27% of people have opened a bottle with their teeth – nearly half of those being women – and you can see that people really are risking their oral health with bad dental habits.’
The survey also found that 29% of people suffer with bleeding gums and almost half of those simply ignore it or brush their teeth more softly to avoid aggravating it.
This year the Brush for Health theme is being used to raise awareness of the link between oral health and serious general conditions such as diabetes, strokes, heart disease and low birth-weight babies.
For more information on National Smile Month, visit www.nationalsmilemonth.org.