A GROWING number of people are cutting back on oral care in a bid to save money, according to a new survey.
More than a third of adults (36 per cent) are more likely to delay dental treatment due to cost while more than a quarter say they are visiting their dentist less often as a result of the economic downturn.
The survey commissioned by the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) also found that 17 per cent of people say they are spending less on their oral care and more than a quarter (27 per cent) are buying cheaper oral care products such as toothpaste, mouthwash and toothbrushes.
The Foundation expressed concern that one in four people believe visiting the dentist is becoming less of a priority. The survey found that people on lower incomes are most at risk of deteriorating oral health during the financial crisis. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) on lower incomes said they would be likely to refuse dental treatment and almost four in 10 are more likely to delay treatment.
BDHF chief executive Dr Nigel Carter urged people not to ignore their oral health needs. He said: "Our findings show that oral health is not recession-proof and that too many people are willing to gamble with their oral health.
"Unfortunately, they are running the risk of storing up a wide range of health problems and even bigger costs in the future. Many people are entitled to free dental treatment on the NHS and it's always worth checking, especially if your circumstances change." Government statistics show tooth decay is more than 40 per cent lower among people who visit their dentist at least once a year.
Dr Carter added: "A regular oral health routine is the only way to avoid problems with teeth and gums. This includes maintaining regular visits to the dentist. Oral health can quickly deteriorate and regular check-ups with a dentist are essential."
The findings were published to coincide with National Smile Month, which ran until June 20, and aimed to remind people of the importance of good oral health.