Millions of Brits are prioritising their social life ahead of their oral health, potentially endangering their health in the process.
New survey data reveals almost one in five (18 per cent) would cancel their dental appointment to go to the pub, order a takeaway, buy clothes, go to the cinema or go bowling.
More than 2,000 people were questioned as part of the nation's annual reminder about the importance of oral health, National Smile Month. The campaign, which runs from 19 May to 19 June, encourages everyone to brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cut down on how often they have sugary foods and drinks and to visit their dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, urges people to discover why placing social life ahead of regular visits to the dentist isn't a smart move.
Dr Carter said:
"Visiting the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend, is a cornerstone of good oral health practice. If people are choosing to overlook that and perhaps harm their oral health further by snacking at the cinema, drinking too much alcohol or indulging in a poor diet, they are risking further complications by just skipping one appointment.
"In the last two years poor oral health has been linked to a number of conditions, some of which are life-threatening. Breast cancer, strokes, diabetes, hospital-acquired infections, erectile dysfunction, pneumonia, bowel cancer, endocarditis, oral cancer, dementia, pancreatic cancer, psoriasis and pregnancy complications have all been associated with varying degrees of poor oral health.
"Gum disease in particular has been associated with serious health issues. It affects most people at some point in their lives, so there is no excuse for ignoring good dental hygiene. The good news is that poor oral health is nearly always preventable, so it is important that people make caring for their teeth a top priority. Regular check-ups are really important to give the dentist a chance to assess your oral health and, if necessary, give your teeth a scale and polish.
"A shopping trip might be more fun, but the financial savings of prevention – to your mouth and to your wallet – are much higher than if you put off oral health treatment until it's too late. Visits to the dentist can identify problems in the early stages, before they develop into something more severe. If you forego basic check-ups due to cost, there's every chance when something goes wrong and you do need to visit the dentist you'll have to pay a much larger amount upfront."