Fewer than half (43%) of UK workers are given time off by their employers to visit their dentist, potentially putting their oral health at severe risk, the British Dental Health Foundation has warned.
The situation is even worse for parents, with just one worker in four allowed to take paid time off work to take their children to the dentist, added the organisation.
Fewer than one in 10 workers received occupational health information from their employers about the importance of maintaining good oral health.
Moreover, two million people have taken time off sick from work because of poor oral health over the past five years, it has estimated.
Some 13% of workers took time off without pay to visit their dentist, and nearly three in 10 took holiday or visited the dentist in their own time. Nearly two-thirds of parents said that they either took unpaid leave or holiday to take their children to the dentist.
Dr Nigel Carter, British Dental Health Foundation chief executive, said: “Significant numbers of people are forced to miss work each year unnecessarily due to avoidable poor oral health.
“What many employers won’t realise is that poor oral health is increasingly being linked to other more serious medical conditions such as diabetes, strokes and heart problems, which cause even greater difficulties for absenteeism.
“Time and money are clearly barriers to improving oral health – especially during the economic downturn – but we hope more employers will take another look at their occupational health and general welfare policies.”