Brits Blame Beverages for Bad Teeth Despite Inconsistent Care



The British reputation for poor oral hygiene may be exaggerated. But ask residents of England why they have such troubled teeth, and you’ll get a range of answers. In a recent survey by marketing research company Mintel, 46% of British adults believe that nonalcoholic drinks like tea, coffee, soda, and juice have a negative impact on the appearance of their teeth, while only 24% attribute bad smiles to poor dental hygiene. Food, aging, tobacco, and grinding also are suspected culprits.

“Perhaps encouragingly, just a quarter of Brits attribute a decline in the appearance of their teeth to poor dental hygiene,” said Jack Duckett, senior consumer lifestyles analyst at Mintel. “However, the high proportion of consumers that cite dietary factors as having a negative impact on their teeth is a testament to ongoing diet issues in the United Kingdom (UK), particularly with regard to high sugar consumption.”

In the past 12 months, 47% of respondents said they suffered from plaque buildup, 45% from staining or yellowing, 35% from bleeding gums, 31% from pain from a broken or abscessed tooth or other causes, 31% from cavities, and 26% from bad breath. Consumers age 16 to 34 years old are most likely to have suffered from these oral care concerns during the past year.

“With young adults typically among the biggest consumers of processed sugars, and more likely to agree that poor dental hygiene has negatively impacted the appearance of their teeth, it follows that the young are also more likely to indicate that they experience oral hygiene concerns, such as staining, bad breath, cavities, and tooth pain,” said Duckett.

According to the survey, 70% of adults used a manual toothbrush within the past year, while 44% used powered toothbrushes. In fact, manual brush usage declined from 72% to 70%, while powered brush usage grew from 41% to 44% in the past year. However, the percentage of adults who floss fell from 43% in 2015 to 40% in 2016, with 34% of men and 46% of women flossing in the past 3 months.

Overall, growth in the UK oral care market has slowed down, with sales rising 1.6% to £1.06 billion (about $1.4 billion USD) in 2015. Mouthwash sales declined by 1% to £190 million (about $251.7 million USD). Dental accessories—including whitening products, fresh breath dental gum, scrapers, breath strips and other fresheners, floss and tape, interdental sticks and brushes, and disclosing tablets—rose 6.1% to reach £123 million (about $162.9 million USD).

“Value sales growth in the UK oral care market has been increasingly undermined by falling sales in the mouthwash segment in recent years, as well as a decline in new product launches. However, the overarching market has been boosted by strong sales of dental accessories and denture products, which have enjoyed strong value and volume sales growth as they benefit from the aging population,” Duckett said.

Meanwhile, 80% of British parents take their children to routine dental appointments, while 20% only take their children when needed or are unsure about the frequency of visits. Also, 81% of parents with children 12 years old and younger consider good oral care habits to be just as important for babies as for older children and adults, and 80% say they keep a close eye on their children’s daily oral hygiene.

Additionally, 45% of parents with children 12 years old and younger believe their children only need to brush their teeth as part of their oral care routine, while 49% believe children should use multiple products, including dental floss or mouthwash.

“The vast majority of parents agree that baby teeth need as much attention as permanent ones. However, for a significant portion of parents, this excludes flossing and mouthwashing,” Duckett said. “Brands must, therefore, find new ways of educating patients about the importance or regular flossing for their children.”

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