Workers 'struggling' to take paid time off work to see dentist

Absence in fact 'made worse' by employees' good intentions

A large number of workers struggle to take time off work to visit their dentist and end up developing problems that in fact mean they have to take even more time off work in the end.

A survey for the British Dental Health Foundation suggests that less than half – 43% – of the UK workforce is allowed to take paid time off work to visit their dentist. The situation is even worse for parents, the research shows, with just around one in four workers allowed to take paid time off work to take their children to the dentist.

The survey also found that less than one in ten workers (7%) received occupational health information from their employers about the importance of maintaining good oral health.

More than one in ten (13%) workers have taken time off without pay to visit their dentist and nearly three in every ten people (29%) took holiday or visited the dentist in their own time. Approaching two thirds (62%) of parents said they either took unpaid leave or holiday to take their children to the dentist, the survey suggests.

However, rather than employers benefiting through increased attendance at work, the situation in fact means that an estimated two million people have taken sick time off work due to poor oral health over the past five years.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said that "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,” he said.

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