More than 45 million British adults are at an increased risk of tooth decay, according to a new report.1 Figures collected by the Oral Health Foundation and Colgate-Palmolive show that more than four-in-five (84%) of all adults in the UK fall into groups that put them at higher risk of the disease.1
The research found that one-in-five (21%) Brits have ‘moderate-to-high’ sugar diets, have not visited a dentist in the last two years (21%), or do not brush their teeth twice a day (19%) – all of which increase a person’s chances of developing tooth decay. 1
Tooth decay can lead to expensive fillings, root canal treatment or a person needing to have a tooth extraction.
The latest data from NHS Digital shows there are 9.7 million band two treatments in England a year. These include fillings, root canal work and extractions.2
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation says tooth decay can have a devastating effect on a person’s quality of life and more must be done to reduce the number of people affected by the disease.
Dr Carter says: “Tooth decay remains the most common chronic disease in the UK, yet it is entirely preventable. Anybody can suffer from tooth decay but there are a few things that can increase the risk.
“Tooth decay is caused by poor oral hygiene, as well as eating or drinking too much sugar too often. It is also linked with not having regular dental check-ups.
“Those on medications containing sugar or that cause dry mouth can also put a person at greater risk. We also know that diabetics and orthodontic patients are also more likely to have tooth decay. Together these makes up a significant proportion of the population.
“In its early stages, tooth decay can cause mild pain, but in extreme cases it can have a debilitating impact on a person’s life. For a better quality of life, it is critical to know how identify tooth decay in the early stages or prevent it from happening at all.”
Toothache and tooth sensitivity to sweet things are two of the most likely signs of tooth decay. Dark spots on the surfaces of the teeth and an unpleasant taste in the mouth are further signs to look out for.
“If anybody falls into one of the high-risk groups, or notices the early signs of tooth decay, they should book an appointment with their dental team for an assessment,” adds Dr Carter. “They will be able to help somebody lower their risk and offer a range of different options for preventing and treating tooth decay at home or while at work. One of which may be prescribing a high fluoride toothpaste.”
In the UK, around eight-in-ten adults have one or more teeth with decay, that are filled or have been pulled out due to decay. It is also extremely common in children, with more than one-in-five showing signs of tooth decay.3
To help more people identify their risk of tooth decay and how to spot the early warning signs, the charity has partnered with Colgate-Palmolive to launch a new educational campaign. The initiative, The Truth About Tooth Decay also gives advice for preventing the condition.
Scientific Affairs Project Manager at Colgate Emanuele Cotroneo, highlights the importance of preventing tooth decay.
Dr Cotroneo says: “The best way to prevent tooth decay is by brushing the teeth thoroughly last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, with a 1450ppm fluoride toothpaste. This should take around two minutes.
“When brushing, make sure the inner, outer and biting surfaces of the teeth are brushed carefully, and remember to brush along the gumline. Using ‘interdental’ brushes, or dental floss or tape, also helps to remove plaque and food from between the teeth. These are areas an ordinary toothbrush can’t reach. Daily use of a fluoride mouthwash in between brushing can also help.”
The Truth About Tooth Decay can be found at www.dentalhealth.org/thetruthabouttoothdecay.
For anybody looking for help or support with their oral health, the charity also has a Dental Helpline which offers free advice. You can call the Dental Helpline on 01788 539780 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Oral Health Foundation and Colgate-Palmolive (2020) ‘Dental Caries Awareness Survey’, UK, Broadcast Revolution, Sample 2,008.
- NHS Digital (2020) ‘NHS Dental Statistics’, online at https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/nhs-dental-statistics/2019-20-annual-report#related-links, accessed on January 2020.
- Office for National Statistics (2009) ‘Adult Dental Health Survey’, online at https://www.ukdataservice.ac.uk/media/428503/osullivanadhs.pdf