Research from Health Shield Friendly Society has found that UK workers are putting off dental check ups to help save money as they battle the ongoing cost of living crisis. The findings come as National Smile Month starts and lasts up until June 13th.

The survey of full and part time workers across the UK* found that over half of workers (56%) who have to pay for dental care, found it difficult to do so. While dental care in the UK is free for those under 19 in full time education, most employees will need to contribute towards the cost. Fees start from £26.801 if you can access NHS treatment but finding an NHS dentist can be extremely difficult. Funding for NHS dentistry has been cut by £525 million since 2014/15 once inflation is taken into consideration2. This lack of available care plus the cost of treatment are likely to be fuelling the worrying rise in oral health problems and tooth decay, particularly among children. A staggering 40% of whom are no longer able to access regular NHS dental check-ups3 , storing up enormous problems for the future.

Those on lower salaries most likely to cancel routine check-ups

Full time employees on lower salaries are likely to struggle with dental care costs more than any other workers. Six in ten (60%) of those that earn under £25,000 a year say they struggle to pay for it, compared to 51% of those that earn over £25,000 who said this was the case. Nearly half (46%) of workers who earn under £25,000 a year have also cancelled check-ups to save money, and 84% of workers who earn under £40,000 a year say they have reduced their spending on routine health check ups such as dental appointments due to the cost of living crisis.

Matt Liggins, Head of Wellbeing at Health Shield Friendly Society, commented: “It’s really worrying that so many UK workers feel the need to put off attending routine dental appointments, to keep teeth healthy and help prevent bigger issues, because they feel they simply can’t afford to pay for them. This will be causing them stress and worry and could lead to serious health issues in future. Unfortunately, many employees, especially those on lower salaries are feeling the impact the most when it comes to paying for these type of important healthcare check-ups.  Financial worries, stress, and increased risk of further health issues all have a big impact on the workplace through absence, presenteeism and lost productivity.

Employers need to be as aware as possible of the impact of the ongoing cost of living crisis on their staff, and what affordable support they can offer to help relieve some of this burden and stress. Solutions such as Health Cash Plans that cover the costs of essential health check-ups like dental appointments can create a solid foundation for building better workplace health.”