Poor oral health harming UK economy

Over 415,000 employees took time off work last year due to dental problems, meaning an estimated £36.6 million was lost last year due to unforeseen absenteeism.

Less than one in ten workers (7%) received information from their employers about the importance of maintaining good oral health, costing UK businesses – and the economy – millions of pounds due to employers taking days off work.

It is also estimated that more than 1.1 million are taking time off work to look after a child suffering from poor oral health as well. Chief executive for the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, believes that if businesses placed more emphasis on dental wellbeing, a substantial amount of people could better their oral health, and money could be saved.

Nigel Carter said: ‘The figures from this study highlight the significant number of people who are forced to miss work each year unnecessarily due to largely avoidable and preventable oral health problems. What many employers won’t realise is that poor oral health is increasingly being linked to other more serious medical conditions such as diabetes, strokes and heart problems.

Time and money are clearly barriers to improving oral hygiene, especially during the economic downturn, but we hope more employers will take another look at their occupational health and general welfare policies and give a greater priority to oral health.’

He added that by introducing dental health into occupational health policies, employers could benefit from increased productivity and performance from their workers. ‘But it could vitally help to reduce absence related costs too.’

Bupa director of dental services, Ruth Chesmore, said: ‘Even people who are happy with their teeth should pay attention to their dental health, as problems can happen at any time and get worse if not treated. Educating people on what to look out for can help to prevent problems and reduce time off work.’

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