Consumer Oral Health Survey 2022

Our comprehensive look at the nation’s oral health habits

The Core > Company and Industry News > Consumer Oral Health Survey 2022

Published: 14/03/2022

Denplan’s latest results from its Consumer Oral Health Survey1, which gathers insights of over 5,000 consumers to identify key dental trends was published on 8th March. The survey results were launched at a roundtable event in partnership with Dentaid at Twickenham Stadium, where the dental press were present to listen and report on the research findings.


The comprehensive survey, carried out by DeltaPoll on behalf of Simplyhealth1, looks at how often people visit the dentist, their oral health habits, what’s important to them in choosing a dental practice and their self-esteem when it comes to their teeth. The research allows us to keep ahead of dental trends, look at access, oral health routines and patterns of behaviour.

Key headlines on attendance


This year research shows that 20% of UK adults are not visiting dentists regularly (less than every two years), with almost one in three never having had a scale and polish with the hygienist. Fear (31%) and affordability (29%) are still key reasons people don’t go, with nearly a third (30%) only visiting the dentist when in pain.


Confidence in surgery hygiene (90%), the dentist ensuring the health of their teeth and gums (92%), and trust (91%) in their dentist continue to be the most important factors to patients when choosing a dentist, with trust and quality of care rated significantly higher by private patients.


Interestingly, offering a range of payment options is up by nearly ten percent in importance in reasons why to choose a dentist since our last survey in 2019. With a significant number of adults not having check-ups as they don’t think it’s worth the money – now is perhaps a real opportunity for practices to flag their various payment options.

Man flossing teeth

Pandemic impact


With a gap since our 2019 survey, our research has been able to show clear pre-pandemic to post-lockdown behaviours. The COVID-19 pandemic has had negative consequences for more than one in three patients, largely but not exclusively because of postponed or delayed dental appointments.


Further research2 also showed that around a quarter (24%) of UK adults have missed seeing their dentist in person and 10% say their reliance on their dental team has increased.

Oral health habits


The survey also looked at the nation’s oral health habits with only half of adults (51%) brushing for the recommended two minutes or more. Up to 20% of adults (25-34-year-olds) admit to sharing a toothbrush with another person and around a quarter of adults (23%) don’t floss or clean between their teeth, as it makes their gums bleed or hurt. Nearly one in five (19%) have taken time off work due to dental pain.


Some of the other worries consumers have about their oral health are tooth loss (37%), gum disease (36%) and tooth decay (37%). One in ten of adults are most concerned about how their teeth look in photos. A shocking 23% of UK adults say they don’t show their teeth when they smile, 13% say they have low confidence issues because of their teeth and 8% avoid socialising because of the way their teeth make them feel.


As dental professionals we know the detrimental impact of patients not maintaining a good oral health routine. Our research is sadly showing a ten percent drop, compared to our 2019 survey, in both adults who brush twice a day, but also for the recommended two minutes. Nearly a quarter indicate they don’t floss or use interdental brushes, as it makes their gums bleed– a possible warning sign of gingivitis. 

Increasing interest in dental payment plans


Encouragingly, three in five NHS patients would now consider paying for private dental care, with over a third of them (36%) not having been open to this in the past. For practices offering affordable payment plans, this is a welcome shift and could lead to an increase in demand for the kind of regular, preventive quality care that Denplan practices aim to offer.


Read the full report, with more in-depth figures and other topics, such as links between oral health and general health, mouth cancer and children’s oral health.

  1. Survey data of 5,060 adults conducted by DeltaPoll on behalf of Simplyhealth, undertaken 8-11 October 2021. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (18+).
  2. This data is from an additional online survey data of 2,008 UK adults (18+) conducted by Research without barriers on behalf of Simplyhealth, undertaken 6-8 October 2021. 
Computer and mouse icon

More articles, insight, and opinion from the dental world...