Research from Canada Life reveals that a fifth (18 per cent) of UK adults—equivalent to 9.4 million people—have had a dental procedure on themselves.

This comes as 6.5m (12 per cent) people admit to not having seen a dentist for more than five years, despite NHS guidance recommending individuals visit one every two years.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of UK adults say they have been put off going to the dentist. When asked why, 13 per cent say they can’t afford it, and 12 per cent are afraid or have a phobia of the dentist.

One in ten (10 per cent) said they cannot get registered at an NHS dentist, and eight per cent haven’t seen a dentist in a long time and are worried their teeth will need a lot of work. Seven per cent put off seeing a dentist because there aren't enough appointments at times that suit them. A further seven per cent said their dentist had gone private, and they either can’t afford or don’t want to pay for private dentistry.

Oral hygiene playing a key role in overall health and wellbeing, but 18 per cent of UK adults are not currently registered at a dentist. Twelve per cent have been removed from their NHS list in the last year.

Jo Turner, head of product and proposition, group protection at Canada Life, said, “It is really concerning to see such a significant proportion of people not being able to access a dentist. Unfortunately, it is now well known that dentistry on the NHS is becoming less available. Consequently, some people find themselves being removed from patient lists and therefore seeking more expensive private treatment. It’s very worrying that some feel there is no alternative than to perform DIY dentistry.”

More than a fifth (22 per cent) of respondents receive dental insurance or benefits through their employer, and of those 73 per cent have used it. Of those who do have access to dental benefits, over two-fifths (42 per cent) said it increased their likelihood of seeing a dentist.