Three out of five Kiwis admit to skipping brushing their teeth for up to a week.
New research commissioned by Colgate suggests young adults are the worst at maintaining their oral health. The older someone gets, the more likely they are to prioritise healthy teeth.
Aucklanders have the best oral hygiene, with almost 30 percent brushing, flossing and using mouthwash.
In comparison, only 16 percent of Wellingtonians and Cantabrians go to such extremes to keep their teeth and gums clean.
The research also found that:
- fewer than 1 in 4 Kiwis regularly complete a full mouth clean (brush, floss, mouthwash)
- men are most likely to pay or reward children for brushing their teeth, compared to women who are more likely sing a song or dance with them to get them brushing
- nearly 1 in 10 parents have tied their child's wiggly tooth to a door and slammed it shut.
The surprising results are perhaps backed up by figures from New Zealand Health Survey, that showed more than 262,000 adult teeth were removed due to tooth decay, infection or gum disease in 2015.
July is Oral Health Month, run by Colgate in association with the New Zealand Dental Association to encourage and educate Kiwis about their oral health.
"If Kiwis of all ages, young and old, follow these steps, we'll see New Zealanders enjoying better oral health throughout their lifetime," Colgate scientific affairs manager Dr Susan Catwright said.
"The worst time to skip brushing your teeth is before bed. During the night, you produce less saliva which makes your mouth a haven for bacteria.
"Too often we don't take care of our teeth until it's too late. This month is Oral Health Month, so we have a good excuse to start talking about some of the lasting impacts of bad brushing routines."