Skip to Content

Are there people who don’t brush their teeth?

Oral hygiene is an important part of overall health and wellbeing. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily helps remove plaque, which can lead to cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay if left untreated. Most dentists recommend brushing for two minutes twice per day. But are there really people who never brush their teeth?

How Many People Don’t Brush Their Teeth?

While most people understand the importance of oral hygiene, some people still don’t brush their teeth regularly. According to surveys and studies, the percentage of people who don’t brush their teeth every day ranges from 2% to 20%.

A survey conducted by the American Dental Association in 2015 found that 2% of adults in the United States never brush their teeth. The survey included over 1,000 participants from ages 18 and older.

A different survey in 2016 by the ADA found that nearly 1 in 5 Americans don’t brush their teeth twice a day. The survey included over 1,500 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

According to a large national survey conducted in Japan in 2016, about 13% of adults reported not brushing their teeth daily. The survey included over 165,000 participants ages 40 to 79 years old.

While the percentages vary between different surveys, the results indicate that there is a small but significant portion of the population who are not brushing daily as recommended.

Reasons Why People Don’t Brush

There are many different factors that can influence a person’s oral hygiene habits. Here are some potential reasons why certain individuals do not brush their teeth regularly:

  • Lack of education – They may not understand the importance of oral hygiene.
  • Depression – Mental health conditions like depression can make it difficult to maintain daily habits.
  • Addiction – Drug and alcohol addiction may alter priorities and make self-care difficult.
  • Cognitive or physical disabilities – Some disabilities can make it challenging to brush effectively.
  • Affordability – Not being able to afford toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental care.
  • Culture/background – In some cultures, oral hygiene is less emphasized.
  • Laziness – For some, it’s simply not a priority and they skip it.

Consequences of Not Brushing

Failing to brush and floss properly can lead to an array of oral health problems, including:

  • Tooth decay – Plaque buildup leads to cavities.
  • Gum disease – Gingivitis and periodontitis causes inflammation and bleeding.
  • Tooth loss – Severe gum disease results in tooth loss if left untreated.
  • Halitosis – The breakdown of food particles in the mouth causes bad breath.
  • Tooth staining – Without regular brushing, stains build up on tooth surfaces.
  • Systemic issues – Poor oral health has been linked to problems such as heart disease.

In addition to health consequences, poor dental hygiene can also have social implications, such as embarrassment, low self-esteem, and limited social interactions. Therefore, establishing and maintaining good brushing habits is critical for both physical and emotional wellbeing.

Tips for Developing Better Brushing Habits

For those who struggle to brush their teeth regularly, here are some tips that may help:

  • Set a routine – Brush at the same times each morning and night to build a habit.
  • Use reminders – Put notes in visible spots or set phone alarms to remember to brush.
  • Make it fun – Play music or find a tasty toothpaste flavor to enjoy brushing more.
  • Buy new supplies – Splurge on a fancy new toothbrush or electric brush to get motivated.
  • Brush with others – If you live with family, brush together to reinforce the habit.
  • See a dentist – Getting a professional cleaning and advice can provide motivation.
  • Address barriers – Consider what factors are preventing you from brushing and tackle them.

Reaching out for professional help from a dentist, doctor, or therapist may also aid in forming better oral care habits, especially if anxiety, addiction, or depression are involved.

Groups That Are Less Likely to Brush

While anyone can develop poor oral hygiene habits, some demographic groups are less likely to brush their teeth regularly. According to studies, those less likely to brush daily include:

  • Men – Multiple studies show women are more likely to brush thoroughly and floss than men.
  • People with low income – There is a correlation between household income level and oral hygiene habits.
  • People with low education – Those with less education are less likely to brush twice daily.
  • Ethnic minorities – On average, ethnic minority groups have lower rates of brushing habits.
  • People with disabilities – Certain physical or cognitive disabilities make brushing challenging.
  • People with addiction – Drug, alcohol, and tobacco addiction correlates to lower oral hygiene compliance.
  • People with depression – Symptoms like low motivation can make it hard to keep up habits.

These groups may need targeted interventions, education, and assistance to promote better brushing habits.


While most people brush their teeth at least occasionally, there is a small percentage of the population who rarely or never brush. Factors like education level, income, mental health, addiction, and physical abilities can all contribute to someone having poor oral hygiene habits. Professional dental care and health education may help improve brushing behaviors. But ultimately, each individual needs to make oral health a priority for themselves to develop good lifelong habits.