Bad teeth can have mental impact

New research reveals that 70%* (9.7 million) of people with bad teeth say it’s negatively affected their lives.

And with 14 million people saying they have bad teeth – that’s almost a third (29%) of the adult population that are risking decay to their mental wellbeing, as well as their teeth.

Oasis Dental Care carried out the research which cites a reluctance to smile as the most common way that poor dental hygiene impacts lives.

5.4 million (39%*) of those with bad teeth say they try to hide their smile or even avoid smiling altogether. And self-esteem can be eroded too because 4.4 million (31%*) people say that having bad teeth has made them less confident in public.

A poorly maintained mouth is making 2.1 million (15%*) feel depressed and is even stopping 400,000 (3%*) leaving the house. 10%* (1.4 million) don’t speak as much as they would if they had better teeth and one million (7%*) say their love life has been negatively affected.

The study reveals that women are more sensitive to the mental impacts of having bad teeth as almost four-in-five (78%*) women who have bad teeth are affected versus just 63%* of men. That’s despite more men than women admitting to having poor oral hygiene (33% of men versus 26% of women).

Julian Perry, clinical director at Oasis Dental Care, said: 'Dentists are clear that maintaining good dental hygiene will help you avoid pain, discomfort and oral diseases which can lead to the loss of teeth; but now we know that it’ll also help with your social wellbeing.

'The negative mental impacts of having bad teeth identified in our study go beyond vanity – some members of the public are demonstrating some very serious psychological issues, and we’d urge them to see a dentist.

'The good news for those affected is that there’s a solution to almost every dental problem, whether it’s to treat pain or whether it’s a cosmetic improvement. It’s frustrating that most of the complaints we deal with are as a result of neglect and are completely avoidable – so putting more effort into oral hygiene is normally the best solution.'

Those in the North East are more likely to suffer the negative mental effects of having bad teeth as 83%* say it’s had an impact; whilst those in the East of England are the least affected as just 52%* say it’s had an influence on their lives.

Although people from Wales claim to have the best teeth, four-in-five (80%*) of those who have poor teeth say that their life has been affected by them. And although those in London and Scotland admit to having the worst teeth, it’s less likely to have an impact on their life – 72%* of Londoners and 70%* of Scots say that having bad teeth has affected their lives.

ICM Research conducted amongst a nationally representative sample of 2041 UK adults, 27-29 April 2012

* of those who claim they have bad teeth

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