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42 per cent of Irish adults "are missing teeth"

Plus, more than half of Irish adults surveyed said that the biggest barrier to visiting the dentist is the cost.

MORE THAN HALF of adults in Europe don’t have all of their own teeth, according to a new survey.

The pan-European survey was released by GSK and Wrigley and surveyed 3,500 Europeans. Of these, 70 per cent said they were happy with their dental health, but half said they don’t have all of their natural teeth.

When it comes to Ireland, Irish respondents admitted to less frequent tooth brushing, with 84 per cent not brushing their teeth or flossing after meals compared to EU figures.

Plus, 25 per cent of Irish people said they eat between brushing their teeth and going to sleep “most of the time”.


When it comes to visiting the dentist every year, 40 per cent of respondents said that cost was the main reason for not going.

In Ireland, 52 per cent of people said this, followed by people in the UK (50 per cent), Poland (50 per cent), and Italy and Spain (48 per cent each).

Cost was less of a concern in Germany and France, where only 20 per cent of respondents felt that the cost of visiting the dentist was prohibitive.

Just over half of Irish respondents see a dentist once a year (lower than EU average 70 per cent) and 30 per cent less than every 2 years or never. The same amount said they take their children to the dentist regularly.

The most important aspect to dental health and hygiene was seen by Irish and EU respondents as “keeping your natural teeth”.


What country in Europe was most concerned about their smiles? The Spanish – 66 per cent ranked a healthy smile as a priority, compared to just 33 per cent in France, the lowest of all European countries.

While 81 per cent of those surveyed said that keeping all of their natural teeth was their top oral health priority, only 49 per cent actually had all of their natural teeth.

Of the countries surveyed, Poland scored particularly low in this area, with 70 per cent of Polish respondents reporting that they were missing at least one of their natural teeth.

Oral healthcare

  • Teeth brushing

Over 80 per cent of participants said they believed regular teeth brushing helps prevent cavities and dental plaque. But did they act on this? Well, 32 per cent reported brushing their teeth fewer than the recommended two times per day.

  • Sugar-free chewing gum

When it comes to chewing sugar-free gum, 74 per cent of survey participants did not associate it with oral health benefits, even though sugar-free chewing gum has been proven to help neutralise plaque acids.

  • Flossing and mouthwash

Flossing, which is also beneficial to oral health, was underutilised, with 36 per cent of respondents saying they never flossed, even though close to 60 per cent saw flossing as key to helping prevent gum infections.

While over half of people said they understood mouthwash’s value in preventing dental plaque and gum infections, 63 per cent said that they don’t use it daily.

  • Diet

A healthy, balanced diet is essential to good oral health. Survey participants reported having a strong understanding of things that have a positive impact on dental health (eg vegetables, dairy products and water), and those that have a negative impact (eg smoking, etc).

Dr Andrew Bolas, President of the Irish Dental Association, concluded:

Cavities and gum diseases are easily preventable by a healthy and balanced diet combined with regular dental check-ups and routine hygiene practices, including proper brushing and the use of fluoride-containing toothpaste, inter-dental cleaning, chewing sugar-free chewing gum after meals and snacking, and getting regular dental check-ups. These simple tools could improve Europeans’ oral and overall health quickly and cost-effectively.

Read: Don’t overbrush your teeth, say dentists>

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