A new survey looking into some of the nation's oral health habits has revealed that many do not take their oral health into consideration when eating and drinking.
The findings1 show that more than one in three people (39 per cent) admit they give little thought to their oral health and it plays hardly any relevance in their diet, while one in six (17 per cent) said they eat and drink what they want, regardless of the effect it may have on either their mouth or teeth.
Results also found that more than one in four people (28 per cent) are aware of the foods that are bad for their teeth but ignore it.
Only one in six (16 per cent) of the people who were questioned in the survey avoid foods that are bad for their teeth, with men twice as likely to ignore their oral health when it comes to diet and food consumption as women.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, says a healthy eating mind-set should be top of everybody's shopping list if oral health in the UK is to improve.
Dr Carter said: "Most people know and understand how various foods and drinks affect their body and overall health but many remain unaware that diet also plays a vital role in oral health. Poor diet contributes to a variety of problems in the mouth including dental decay, erosion and bath breath.
It is important that people become more responsible with their diets and encourage good eating habits, especially from a younger age.
"Frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks naturally weakens the enamel on the teeth, and as a result, the Foundation recommends eating three square meals a day instead of having seven to ten ‘snack attacks'. If people do snack between meals, choose foods and drinks that do not contain sugar, limiting the amount of time the mouth is at risk."
Recent Government statistics2 have shown more than four-fifths of the population have at least one filling while one in twenty (six per cent) have no natural teeth at all. Almost one in three (31 per cent) of adults have tooth decay and three in every ten adults suffer from regular dental pain.
Dr Carter added: "The UK in general has developed a very unhealthy food environment, making it even harder for us to improve dietary habits.
Reducing the amount of snacking and grazing in between meals can create a swift improvement in oral health while decreasing the amount of preventable dental treatment that is carried out every year.
"In the UK, a third of children age five and age 12 have decayed teeth. There is an increasing need for stricter measures to be put in place so that children's health does not deteriorate further. Sweets are sugary foods have become the norm, this gives us an insight into why children's dental health in the UK is so poor."
Chocolate, biscuits, cakes, dried fruit, soft and fizzy drinks, along with squashes are all high in sugar, which can lead to decay or damage the enamel on the surface of the tooth. It is important to remember is that it is not the amount of sugar you eat or drink, but how often you do it. Sweet foods are allowed, but it is important to keep them to mealtimes.
The survey, conducted by the Foundation as part of National Smile Month, a campaign which aims to improve the state of oral health in the UK, questioned more than 1,000 people in order to understand some of their oral health knowledge and habits.
The Foundation has issues three key rules for good oral health:
• Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste;
• Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks;
• Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
National Smile Month, taking place from 20 May to 20 June, is the ideal opportunity for people to find out more about what good oral health consists of, how to obtain it and how to keep it.
This year, the campaign is being supported by some of the nation's best-known brands and retailers. Wrigley's Extra, Oral-B, Listerine, Steradent, Bupa, Denplan, Dencover, Argos, Lloyds Pharmacy, Aldi, Wilkinson, SleepRight and SaveWaterSaveMoney are all giving their backing to National Smile Month - the UK's biggest annual campaign to improve oral health.
1. National Smile Month 2012 Survey: Do you take your oral health into consideration with your diet?
Source: Research Now For Dental Health ~ 24/January/2012
2.Adult Dental Health Survey for England, Wales and Northern Ireland 2009, published March 2011: