The research, released by Colgate as part of Oral Health Month, found 75 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds admitted to skipping brushing their teeth for one day or more, and almost 10 per cent admitted to skipping for over a week.
Five hundred New Zealanders aged 18-plus took part in the online survey, which was conducted in May.
Colgate scientific affairs manager Dr Susan Cartwright said it was concerning young people were neglecting their oral health care, as brushing habits were formed young.
“Too often we don’t take care of our teeth until it’s too late.”
The worst time to skip brushing teeth was before bed, she said.
“During the night, you produce less saliva which makes your mouth a haven for bacteria.”
Oral health educator Deepa Hughes said there was no reason for someone not to brush their teeth for up to a week.
Hughes said young people might assume the effects are avoidable and nothing would happen if they didn’t brush their teeth for a week.
“Because you skip brushing you won’t see the effect immediately apart from the visible tartar and plaque, but not brushing can cause cavities.”
She suggested setting a routine for teeth brushing or downloading an app as a reminder.
The study found more than half of the respondents aged over 65 said oral healthcare was “extremely important”, compared to 39 per cent of 18-24 year olds.
It also found Aucklanders had the best oral hygiene routines, with almost 30 per cent brushing, flossing and using mouthwash, compared to 16 per cent of Wellingtonians and Cantabrians.
New Zealand Dental Association chief executive Dr David Crum recommended brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, maintaining a healthy diet and visiting the dentist regularly.
According to the New Zealand Health Survey 2015/2016, 262,000 adult teeth were removed due to tooth decay, an abscess, infection or gum disease.
All can be side effects of not brushing.
The national health survey in 2014/2015 found Maori and Pacific children and adults and those living in the most deprived areas of New Zealand had the highest rate of tooth extractions.
However, New Zealanders were keen to educate their children about oral health, with more than 90 per cent showing children how to brush their teeth.
When it came to pulling out baby teeth, 71 per cent of New Zealanders said they preferred to let them fall out naturally, while seven per cent have tied their child’s tooth to a door and slammed it shut.
Oral Health Month is an annual event run by the New Zealand Dental Association and Colgate in an aim to educate Kiwis about the importance of good oral health.