Employees are putting up with dental pain and delaying essential dental treatment as they’re worried about taking time off work. According to new research by Bupa Dental Insurance, 73% of workers have delayed going to the dentist, with over 2 in 5 delaying treatment as they were worried about needing time off work.

Furthermore, almost a third (31%) of employees say they’ve experienced a negative response from their employer when asking for time away for dental treatment.

Almost half of employees (48%) have called in sick or left work early due to dental pain and over 1,330 working days were lost to dental pain in the last year.

For employees who continue to work through pain, they said they’ve found it difficult to concentrate (29%), became less productive (25%), and were snappier with colleagues (14%).

Neil Sikka, Dentist and Chief Dental Officer at Bupa Dental Insurance said: “It’s concerning when people put off dental treatment. It can lead to problems becoming much worse, as early diagnosis and treatment can significantly lower the chances of severe pain or tooth extraction.

“The same goes for routine check-ups. By delaying, it puts people at risk of tooth decay and gum disease, which may cause serious complications, pain or require more specialist treatment. Employers have a responsibility to look after the wellbeing of their workforce, and this includes oral health. Allowing time for dental appointments may improve productivity and require fewer sick days over the long-term.”

The Bupa Wellbeing Index found that 68% of respondents said their motivation at work would increase if dental insurance was offered by their employer, to cover regular check-ups and treatment. A similar number (72%) said they would take up dental insurance if offered.

Ann Stewart, Head of Bupa Dental Insurance adds: “We know that dental insurance is a highly valued workplace benefit. For businesses seeking to retain and attract the best people, a way to do this is strengthening their workplace health and wellbeing offering.

“By encouraging people to have regular check-ups and take action when treatment is needed, it can prevent more serious issues down the line. Dental insurance is designed to be used regularly; around 7 in 10 of our claims are for preventative treatment which is why we’ve recently increased benefit allowances for check-ups and scale and polish. We also offer fast access for oral cancer concerns and cover for treatments such as root canal, fillings and extractions.”