July 29, 2021

Half of Australians have admitted to skipping brushing their teeth during lockdown, according to results of a new survey released by HCF ahead of the 2021 Dental Health Week (August 2-8).

The survey, conducted on behalf of Australia’s largest not-for-profit private health fund, HCF, also revealed that more than 2.7 million Australians admit to skipping brushing ther teeth daily during lock down, and that as many as 1.9 million people were only prompted to brush their teeth during lockdown after putting on a mask and smelling their own breath.

Other reasons people were prompted to brush their teeth during lockdown included feeling unhygenic (39%); Teeth started to feel ‘furry’ (27%); feeling guilty (21%); or they were about to leave home (20%).

Aussies with kids are home under 18 (54%) were more likely than those who do not (33%) to delay or skip brushing teeth at least once a week; and one in four parents said they were motivated to brush their teeth to be a good role model for kids.

The survey also found that men (17%) were more likely than women (11%) to skip brushing their teeth on a daily basis; and Victorians were the Australians most likely (46%) to delay or skip brushing at least once a week, and significantly more than Queenslanders (35%) and West Australians (32%).

HCF Dentist Dr Chris Ho said it was more important than ever that people put extra thought to their oral health to keep smiling during uncertain times.

“During lockdown a lot of our daily life has changed, but one thing you can control is your dental health,” Dr Ho said.

“While we’ve been forced to slow down, this is actually a great time to set up healthy habits like brushing twice a day for at least two minutes, flossing at least once a day and concentrating on good nutrition.

“Your local dentist may only be open for emergencies, but chances are they are only a phonecall away if you have any concerns, so that you can avoid something more serious, and expensive, happening down the track.”

Dr Ho’s top tips to keep smiling during lockdown are:

  1. Watch the snacks: “Every time we eat or drink, the digestion process starts in the mouth. If you constantly snack you don’t give your saliva time to work which could result in more acid in the mouth and more sensitivity and decay,” Dr Ho said.
  2. Don’t forget nutrition: Dr Ho said food high in sugar can significantly damage tooth enamel. “The best drink for your teeth is water,” he said.
  3. De-stress: “Lockdown has put us in many stressful situations like homeschooling, working from home, and not enjoying social activities. People who are more stressed may tend to clench their teeth and get jaw ache, so try some strategies to reduce stress for the sake of your smile as well as your mental health.”
  4. Find a new daily routine: Dr Ho said people should be mindful of skipping healthy habits just because they’re no longer commuting to work or leaving the house. “Don’t blame lockdown for skipping brushing your teeth; rather, use it as an excuse to spend more time on your health and implement a routine to help get you back on track,” Dr Ho said. “If you’re not used to flossing, then now is the time to start – daily flossing helps to reduce dental decay, gum disease, and even bad breath by cleaning between the teeth where your brush may not reach. Brushing your tongue and roof of your mouth also helps prevent bad breath, so your friends and family will benefit too!”
  5. Make a plan to visit your dentist: Finally, Dr Ho recommended people make a plan to visit their dentist when restrictions ease. “It’s something to look forward to for the sake of your health,” Dr Ho said.


MEDIA CONTACT: Rebecca Page, 0439130400, rpage@hcf.com.au


HCF, Australia’s largest not-for-profit health fund protecting Australians since 1932, covers more than 1.7 million members with health and life insurance, and travel and pet insurance.

HCF Members with extras cover can claim 100 per cent back on a range of the most common diagnostic and preventive services through a More for Teeth provider (subject to annual limits and any waiting periods), including:

  • 1 or 2 check-ups per calendar year
  • scale and clean
  • fluoride treatment
  • mouthguards

HCF shows that HCF members who don’t access More for Teeth are 1.5 times more likely to need major dental work, so accessing the program can make a real difference.


The survey was conducted by YouGov. Total sample size was 1015 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26th - 28th July 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Australian adults (aged 18+).