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The Disappearing Toothbrush: Survey Reveals Kids’ Top Excuses to Avoid Brushing


The Makers of LISTERINE® Products Launch New Children’s Fluoride Rinse with Special Tinting Feature to Encourage Healthier Habits and Establish Better Oral Care Routines

Parents confess that kids can be full of excuses, especially when it comes to good oral care. According to a recent survey of parents with children ages six to 12 conducted by StrategyOne and Harris Interactive, excuses range from the unique and creative, “The sink is out of water” and “My wrist hurts,” to the most commonly used, “I forgot” and “I’m too tired.” Kids say they do not see the immediate benefits of oral care, according to some parents polled. With parents’ frustrations in mind, the makers of LISTERINE® introduce LISTERINE® SMART RINSE™ Anticavity Fluoride Rinse, a mouthrinse designed to provide a special visual cue offering kids instant proof of their oral care efforts.

“Visual cues play an important role in habit formation,” says educational psychologist and best-selling author, Dr. Michele Borba*. “When kids can see the immediate benefits, they are more likely to adopt a new habit.”

LISTERINE® SMART RINSE™ protects teeth against cavities and cleans the mouth beyond brushing alone. It works like a magnet to attract what brushing may leave behind and tints the particles – leaving proof in the sink of a cleaner mouth for parents and kids to see.

“Every day I treat kids who don’t brush as often or as long as they should, because kids see brushing as a chore,” says Dr. Kaneta R. Lott**, board certified pediatric dentist and a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. “To help improve oral care and reach places brushing and flossing may miss, I recommend that kids add a fluoride rinse to their daily routine of brushing and flossing. A fluoride rinse can demonstrate benefits beyond brushing alone and offers added protection against cavities.”

Despite kids’ excuses, the majority of parents hope to turn bad habits into positive, healthy routines. Seventy-seven percent of parents wished there was a fun way to teach better oral care. The minority of parents (14%) said they don’t have the patience to teach kids better habits and 28 percent hope the habits are just a phase.

“LISTERINE® SMART RINSE™ was designed with fun and functionality in mind, and helps to extend Johnson’s & Johnson’s legacy of building and innovating brands that moms can depend on,” says Kathleen Weber, Vice President, Oral Care, Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. “Parents who count on LISTERINE® products for their own oral health now have a product they can trust to help their children achieve a healthier smile.”

LISTERINE® SMART RINSE™ is recommended for twice daily use for children ages six and older and is available in two flavors, MINT SHIELD® and BERRY SHIELD™. It is available for purchase at food, drug, and mass merchandise outlets and warehouse store clubs in two sizes: a 250 mL (8.5 fl oz.) bottle with an MSRP of $3.99, and a 500 mL (16.9 fl oz.) bottle with an MSRP of $4.89. Children should swish 10 mL (two teaspoonfuls) of rinse twice daily between teeth for 60 seconds after brushing and then spit it out. For more information, visit For additional information on children’s oral health and care, visit

* Dr. Borba is a consultant to Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc.

** Dr. Lott is a consultant to Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc.

Additional Results: Kids’ Top Excuses to Avoid Brushing

According to survey results, among children’s top excuses for not brushing, seventy-three percent of parents cited “I forgot,” followed by “I’m too tired” (46%), “It takes too much time” (22%), “It’s boring” (16%) and “I lost my toothbrush” (12%). The majority of parents cited “not brushing teeth” (49%) as their child’s worst habit, followed by “forgetting to wash hands” (43%), “eating sweets” (37%), “not wanting to shower or bathe” (28%) and “biting nails” (15%). One in three parents said their kids lie about brushing and one in four parents admitted to negotiating or ’bribing’ their child to brush.

Survey Methodology

StrategyOne, an applied-research consulting firm, conducted a nationally representative online survey among 500 parents living with children 6-12 years old in the U.S. to assess perceptions of their children’s oral care and oral hygiene habits. The survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level, was conducted using the online field services of Harris Interactive.


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