Twenty three million sick days lost to dental pain, new figures show

New figures have revealed that nearly three in 10 (28%) people in the UK have taken time off work due to dental pain.

This is the equivalent of 23 million sick days.

In addition, 7% have taken more than a week off work due to dental pain, and around one in ten reported that toothache has impacted their productivity and quality of work.

This is according to new figures published by Denplan, part of Simplyhealth, following its 2023 Oral Health Survey of over 5,000 consumers in the UK.

The survey also found that:

  • More than one in 10 respondents (12%) have not been seen by an NHS dentist because the waiting lists are too long
  • Almost a third (32%) worry about the cost of dental treatments
  • Over a third (34%) have cancelled or postponed an appointment because they could not afford it
  • More than one in 10 (11%) respondents can no longer afford to go to the dentist due to financial circumstances.

Debilitating pain

Catherine Rutland, dentist and clinical director at Denplan, said: ‘Our Oral Health Survey is one of the most comprehensive pieces of research into dental consumers in the UK.

‘The preliminary findings reveal that dental care provision in the UK is far behind where it should be, resulting in millions of working days lost to tooth pain. People need certainty about how and where to access dental care in order to avoid the type of severe pain that is so debilitating that it requires time off work.

‘Although many avoid the dentist due to concern around shock costs for unexpected treatments, they aren’t aware that there is affordable dental cover available that allows you to spread payment.

‘We need to move to a model where NHS and private dentistry works together to ensure preventative care is prioritised. In doing so, people can catch problems earlier, avoiding invasive and expensive treatments down the line, and importantly, having to take time off due to dental health problems.’

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