Women face heightened oral health risks compared to men, thanks to the hormonal fluctuations associated with menstruation, birth control, and menopause.
Now, newly-released data from the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Programme’s Oral Health Index has shown that more women (48%) believe there has been no improvement to accessing dental services since the pandemic, compared to men (32%).
The Index also found that nearly a third (32%) of women report they are less likely to visit a dentist due to the cost-of-living-crisis.
The findings precede the publication of the Government’s Dental Recovery Plan, which is due to be released ahead of the new year in an effort to tackle the UK’s NHS dental crisis.
Unaffordable dentistry is also hitting young people hard. 56% of people aged 25 to 34-years-old believe their dental health will suffer amidst soaring living costs, and 1 in 3 would consider exploring overseas treatment options for affordability.*
Separate research from Frontier Economics has shown the value preventative oral health measures – like chewing more sugar-free gum – could deliver, by avoiding the need for urgent treatments and making the need for check-ups less frequent.
Introducing supervised toothbrushing programmes for children, expanding water fluoridation schemes, and encouraging the public to chew sugar-free gum could together save the NHS over £50 million per year, and save NHS dental patients £95.9m.
British Dental Association Chair Eddie Crouch said: “Cost of living and access crises are creating a perfect storm. Millions are thinking twice about needed care if they’re lucky enough to find an appointment, while others are looking abroad. Every day that passes our patients are making choices that put their oral health at risk. The government cannot remain asleep at the wheel.”
Michael Dodds, BDS PhD, Senior Principal Scientist with the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Programme said: “It is crucial that any forward plan for dentistry considers preventive measures, such as promoting sugar-free gum, to enhance peoples’ oral health and ease pressures on our dental services. The Oral Health Index’s worrying findings show us that people risk missing out on much-needed dental treatment, due to pressures on services and the rising cost of living. Maintaining good oral health should not be a luxury – it is an essential part of our overall well-being. It helps people to boost their self-confidence, and enables them to carry out day-to-day activities like eating and speaking without discomfort or pain.
“The Wrigley Oral Healthcare Programme is committed to continuing working with the dental community, to support education around healthy, affordable oral health routines.”
 Benscosme, RDH, MA, CHES, J., 2016. Sex-Based Differences in Oral Health – Dimensions of Dental Hygiene | Magazine. [online] dimensionsofdentalhygiene.com. Available at: <https://dimensionsofdentalhygiene.com/article/sex-based-differences-in-oral-health/> [Accessed 26 September 2023].