Dental Care and Dating

Last Updated February 2024

Love at First Smile: The Guide to Oral Hygiene When Dating

If you’re meeting someone for the first time, chances are you want to leave a good impression, especially if it’s a date. Being able to communicate and enjoying spending time together are essential, but the vast majority of people also consider oral hygiene to be very important when dating.

Don’t take our word for it. We gave 1,500 daters something to chew over and investigated their thoughts on dental hygiene and dating. We look at why oral hygiene is so important and get to the bottom of some age-old questions. Will fresh breath boost your chances of a kiss? Do British daters think poor oral hygiene can ruin a relationship?

Find out how UK daters really feel about fresh breath.

How important is dental hygiene to daters?

It’s normal to feel a little self-conscious on a date, but you shouldn’t let your oral hygiene get in the way of a good time. Of all those surveyed, only 4% say their own oral hygiene is unimportant when on a date. However, nearly 8 in 10 deem it very important.

In total, a whopping 96% are concerned about their own oral hygiene when dating. That means if you’re not pulling out the toothbrush before a date, you might be in the minority.

While most Brits have high standards for themselves, most also expect good oral hygiene from their partner. When asked about the importance of the other person’s dental hygiene on their date, 3 in 4 say it is very important, while 17% say it’s somewhat important. That means an overwhelming majority of daters value good dental hygiene in a partner very highly!

Dating dental hygiene amongst the ages

With age comes wisdom – and, apparently, higher standards for oral hygiene. 82% and 86% of Gen X and Boomers (aged 45-64) said dental hygiene was very important when dating. Compare this to Millennials and Gen Z, where 70% of 18–24-year-olds have brushed their teeth before or during a date and 56% have used mouthwash. Unfortunately, there are consequences to poor oral hygiene habits. 64% of Gen Z report they’ve avoided physical contact because of their date’s oral hygiene.

As we get older, problems with teeth and gums can develop. However, it is possible to keep your pearly whites shining with good dental care, so you can enjoy a fresh and clean mouth for a lifetime. Responses show that older generations are more likely to carry out a number of oral hygiene practices before or during a date. 91% of those aged 55-64 would brush their teeth, and 75% would use mouthwash in preparation for a date. Whereas flossing was still most common among those aged 45-54, with 51% saying they would floss before or during a date.

That’s not to say younger generations are relying on charm alone. 18-24 are more likely to freshen their breath with gum before and during a date (62%) and are also the most likely to scrape their tongues (41%).

Location matters for dating dental hygiene

Attitudes to oral hygiene when dating differ based on age, but also depending on where you are. So, which places require one’s palate to be plaque-free? In reality, the answer is ‘everywhere’.  However different parts of the country feel different about letting their partner know their breath isn’t as fresh as it could be.

Those in London and Northern Ireland are the most direct, with 19% of participants feeling very comfortable with discussing a dating partners oral hygiene. 39% of London and Scotland felt somewhat comfortable. Wales and the North West were most shy, with 15% and 13% respectively feeling very uncomfortable.

According to our data, four in five people in Wales (86%), the South East (82%) and the North West (82%) want to keep their dating life extra-fresh and think keeping your mouth clean is a priority. But, why are people so focused on mouth hygiene? Let’s open wide and investigate.

The traditions of dating - and the hope for a kiss!

Dining on a date is a timeless tradition – but that doesn’t mean fresh breath is off the menu. As many as seven in ten singletons believe their own fresh breath was important when showing up for a date, not just overall hygiene.

That’s not a one-way expectation either. Just as many respondents expect their date to have a minty-fresh mouth. So, making sure lunchtime’s garlic breath has cleared might be important if you’re thinking of cosying up to someone.

It’s understandable why people feel this way. After all, fresh breath usually means a clean mouth, right? But there’s more to oral hygiene than mints and chewing gum. Good teeth and fresh breath can be general indications of personal hygiene. If you’re thinking about kissing someone, fresh breath can  indicate you take care of yourself and are considerate of the people you may be getting close to.

What your mouth reveals about you

Your mouth is a doorway into the things you eat, how much you drink, if you smoke, and it can show you take the time for some dental self-care. It’s also a microbiome – a mecca of microbes forming an ecosystem that sometimes needs a bit of care.

Keeping your teeth healthy is a start; removing dental plaque can prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and all the unpleasant side effects that come with it. Dental plaque is a type of sticky, colourless film that’s difficult to see. If you’re ever curious if your dental routine is working, disclosing tablets (a type of dye for the mouth) help show up plaque. That way, you can rest assured your mouth-cleaning methods are up to scratch.

The science behind the kiss

If you’re looking to seal the date with a kiss, then it’s important to know that 71% of daters say fresh breath is very important when deciding to kiss on a date. And this rises to 80% in regions like the North West.

In fact, over half of people on dates have avoided physical contact due to concerns about their date’s oral hygiene.

While it may feel cold, it’s probably a smart precaution. You can transfer up to 80 million types of bacteria to each other through a kiss alone. While not all bacteria are bad, a kiss can transfer harmful bacteria too. That means someone else’s problems could become yours in extreme circumstances.

If you’re looking to take your mouthcare to the max, then you’ll need to do more than brush. Read on to learn some quick tips and tricks for dating oral hygiene.

Tips for oral hygiene to get you date ready

Your oral hygiene doesn’t need to be a tongue twister. but, for a healthy mouth and fresh breath that lasts longer than lunchtime, there are a few must-dos. Get ahead of the competition – here are five fresh breath tips to keep your teeth, gums, and tongue pristine.

Brush your teeth

It may seem obvious – but don’t just brush your teeth on date night, do it every night (and morning). You can’t give the illusion of hygiene, and by regularly brushing your teeth, you get rid of hard-to-remove-plaque. You can also help combat signs of tooth decay.

Remember, don’t rinse your mouth with water right away or you’ll be spitting out that excess fluoride from your toothpaste, which can help do a lot of good. While brushing your teeth - two times a day is enough - you may want to consider having a freshen-up before your date night if you get chance. You wouldn’t be alone either, 79% of people brush their teeth either before or during a date.

Use Mouthwash

63% of people use mouthwash either before or during a date. Mouthwash isn’t a replacement for brushing and flossing, but it can help reach the spots that brushing and floss can’t. Brushing just your teeth only targets 25% of your mouth*, mouthwash targets virtually 100%, so using all, the hygiene tools in your fresh-breath arsenal can help give you a total clean feel.

Mouthwash contains ingredients that can help to tackle bacteria and plaque. Fluoride helps strengthen teeth to help keep cavities at bay.

You can find a mouthwash that’s suited to you. Choose from a range of flavours including Spearmint to Lime and Mint. You can also pick a mouthwash to help you with a particular concern, whether it’s a sensitive teeth, whitening, or gum disease

Clean Your Tongue

Your tongue isn’t prone to cavities or decay, but it can harbour a biome of bacteria. These germs can build between the tastebuds and, more noticeably, it can make your tongue feel a bit ‘furry’.

When cleaning, don’t just haphazardly scrub your tongue. Instead, brush your tongue back and forth, then side-to-side. Tongue scrapers can do a similar job. Only 1-in-3 people scrape their tongue before or during a date, which means it’s a trick most people are missing out on.


Flossing can sometimes feel like a chore – isn’t your tongue scrape, toothbrush, and mouthwash enough? Well, adding flossing to your routine ensures all those interdental crevices between your teeth get the attention they deserve. Just under half of daters say they floss before or during a date. So, for that real fresh breath feeling, it’s important to make flossing a regular activity. Plus, it’s simple:

  • Don’t be too aggressive. Clean gently from the top down in a left-to-right motion
  • If dental floss is too thin for your teeth, try dental tape
  • Hold the floss tightly to help it stay taught and pick up any leftover food

If you’ve got space between your teeth you could use an interdental brush. Remember, flossing is also great for any bits and pieces stuck between your teeth. It’s also pocket-sized, so perfect if you get a chance to refresh in the restroom.

Fresh breath supplies

One of the easiest ways to help bad breath is fresheners. If you’re after an easy-to-use, minty-cool way to refresh, you could try:

  • Breath freshener sprays
  • Sugar-free chewing gum
  • Sugar-free mints
  • Breath strips

These can be great after a garlic-loaded meal, or simply as a quick pit-stop before the big night. Roughly half of all people surveyed use mints or chew gum before a date, though the results aren’t as effective as a thorough clean.

Conclusions for romance

Over 90% of people say that good oral hygiene contributes to the success of a romantic relationship to some degree. Whether you’re new to dating or are a long-term couple who are more than a little comfortable together, more than half of those interviewed believe maintaining oral hygiene is important. With more than 700 strains of bacteria exchanged in a kiss, and a smorgasbord of microorganisms living in your mouth it’s a part of your body that needs consistent TLC.

Remember that an effective routine combines thorough brushing, flossing and mouthwash. That way you can ensure every corner of your mouth has been thoroughly cleaned. Oral hygiene is important to most people that are dating, regardless of age, location, or gender. So, if you’re looking to get the most out of a date, and maybe even a kiss, don’t neglect your mouthcare.

*From study representing teeth surface area measurements