UK workers are putting off dental care check-ups to help save money as they battle the ongoing cost of living crisis. The findings come from Health Shield Friendly Society during National Smile Month.

The survey of full and part-time workers across the UK* found that over half of workers (56%) who have to pay for dental care, found it difficult to do so. While dental care in the UK is free for those under 19 in full time education, most employees will need to contribute towards the cost.

Fees start from £26.801 if you can access NHS treatment but finding an NHS dentist can be extremely difficult. Funding for NHS dentistry has been cut by £525 million since 2014/15 once inflation is taken into consideration2. This lack of available care plus the cost of treatment are likely to be fuelling the worrying rise in oral health problems and tooth decay, particularly among children. A staggering 40% of whom are no longer able to access regular NHS dental check-ups3 , storing up enormous problems for the future.

Lower salaries  

Full time employees on lower salaries are likely to struggle with dental care costs more than any other workers. Six in ten (60%) of those that earn under £25,000 a year say they struggle to pay for it, compared to 51% of those that earn over £25,000 who said this was the case.

Nearly half (46%) of workers who earn under £25,000 a year have also cancelled check-ups to save money, and 84% of workers who earn under £40,000 a year say they have reduced their spending on routine health check ups such as dental appointments due to the cost of living crisis.

Matt Liggins, Head of Wellbeing at Health Shield Friendly Society, commented:

Employers need to be as aware as possible of the impact of the ongoing cost of living crisis on their staff, and what affordable support they can offer to help relieve some of this burden and stress. Solutions such as Health Cash Plans that cover the costs of essential health check-ups like dental appointments can create a solid foundation for building better workplace health.

Matt Liggins, Head of Wellbeing at Health Shield Friendly Society



2Nuffield Trust Jan 2024

3Hospital cost of pulling kids’ rotten teeth doubles to £81m after NHS dentistry collapse – Mirror Online

*Snapshot survey, carried out by Health Shield with Survey Monkey in December 2023 amongst 564 people in full- or part-time work; and with a cross-section of regions, gender and age.

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Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.