What The Yuck? Americans Skip Brushing Their Teeth 5 Times A Week!

NEW YORK — Americans are apparently embracing the pungent smell of morning breath, as a new survey reveals the average person forgets to brush their teeth five times per week. That’s according to a poll of 2,000 adults, which also finds that it’s not only the toothbrush that people are forgetting — they also admit to skipping out on flossing and using mouthwash four times each week.

Despite their forgetful nature, an astounding 92 percent of Americans believe their oral care routine is important to their overall health. In fact, 51 percent believe oral hygiene is so important that they’d speak to a loved one if they noticed they had poor oral care habits or bad breath. Taking that a step further, respondents would also be willing to look inside their mouths (32%) or lend them their toothbrush if needed (14%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of LISTERINE® Clinical Solutions, results show that a majority (75%) of Americans agree that there is a “right” way to care for your oral health. This includes no-brainers like going to the dentist regularly (81%), brushing your teeth multiple times a day (75%), and using mouthwash (60%).

Those sentiments toward oral care extend beyond physical appearance, as 89 percent of Americans surveyed agree that they feel more confident when they feel good about their oral health. For all the right approaches Americans are taking, however, there are always some that are a bit strange. When asked the most unconventional oral care method they’ve witnessed, respondents said, “using a washcloth to clean their teeth” or “using fishing line to floss.”

One-quarter of respondents even admit that they are embarrassed by the current state of their oral health.

infographic on the types of oral hygiene problems Americans have


“While it’s promising to see that people are keeping dental health top of mind, as a dentist, I encourage more commitment to maintaining each of the critical steps of the oral hygiene routine — all of which are crucial to healthy teeth and gums,” says spokesperson Dr. Marie M. Jackson, dentist and LISTERINE Clinical Solutions partner, in a statement. “Brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash twice a day, every day really are our best tools when it comes to fighting and preventing common oral health issues.”

The survey reveals that in the last year, Americans have experienced dental woes such as sensitive teeth (34%), plaque build-up (28%) and bleeding gums (24%). For some respondents, these issues are chronic: one in five (21%) say they suffer from oral pain or discomfort in their teeth and gums at least every other week. 

Perhaps because of how common these dental issues are, almost all respondents (93%) say they understand the importance of addressing bleeding gums for their overall health. This may be why three in four (76%) aim to seek out products that are catered to their specific oral needs. Motivators to do so include preventing bad breath (73%), cavities (72%), and avoiding gum disease (68%).

“It can be alarming when experiencing dental issues like seeing blood in the sink after brushing or flossing,” adds Dr. Jackson. “However, there are ways to tackle these problems, and I’m glad to see the data trends toward a top recommendation of mine, which starts with personalizing your home care routine with products that can help suit your unique dental health needs for a fresher and cleaner mouth.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by LISTERINE® Clinical Solutions between Feb. 23 and Feb. 29, 2024. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).