UK fails to make top 10 European countries for dental hygiene

People in the Netherlands are three times more likely to visit the dentist

21 February, 2022 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

People in Ireland, Lithuania and Azerbaijan take better care of their teeth than those in the UK, according to a new study.

Of 28 European nations analysed, Norway came out as the most teeth-conscious country, followed by Luxembourg in second place and Germany in third place. The UK ranked 12th. Serbia was the least teeth-conscious country in Europe, ranking just below Latvia and Poland.

The analysis is based on data including the number of dentists per 10,000 people, sugar consumption, the prevalence of current tobacco use and the average number of dentist visits per person each year.

Kent Express, the UK’s largest mail-order dental supplier, carried out the study to find the most teeth-conscious countries, analysing a total of 178 countries around the globe. Drawing on European data alone, Kent Express were able to see where the UK ranked compared to the rest of Europe.

The study comes after the UK was found to have missed a total of 30 million dentist appointments in the first year of the pandemic, which some health campaigners say could lead to missed cases of mouth cancer. One in five people have even taken dental treatments into their own hands at home.

The study also found that although the British visit the dentist less than once a year, on average, this is not due to a lack of dentists. Serbia, for example, has 60 per cent fewer dentists per 10,000 people than the UK, but people there visited dentists only slightly less.

Chris Moffatt, dental expert at Kent Express, said: “Dentistry in the UK is in a state of flux, so it felt like a great time to run the study. Dentists are increasingly choosing to work privately rather than through the NHS, large corporations are buying up independent dental practices, and technology is opening up new treatment options.

“It’s shocking to discover that the UK ranks so poorly in the survey. We’re also among the bottom 10 countries in the world when it comes to how often we visit the dentist.

“We want people to take more notice of their oral health, and more pride in their teeth. That needs to start with regular dental check-ups. Your dentist can spot many problems early on to ensure they don’t develop into something more serious.

“Things are changing with Generation Z [under 25-year-olds]. Statistics show that they are smoking and drinking less than previous generations, with a healthier outlook, perhaps due to the impact of social media. They like to be in control of their personal branding, and part of that is ensuring good oral hygiene.”

Anna Middleton, dental therapist and founder of London Hygienist, said: “I think that access to dental health services has impacted the public being able to prioritise their oral health. Having a NHS system is also very different to other countries and those countries may not necessarily be subsidised as the service is here in the UK. More focus on prevention over treatment is still needed.”

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