Over 2 million people in the UK say they have taken time of work due to poor oral health.

The UK's economy is being damaged unnecessarily with an estimated two million workers taking sick time off work due to poor oral health over the past five years.

Most problems with teeth and gums are preventable with a good oral health routine, but around seven per cent of the UK's 29 million workforce have called in sick with teeth problems at least once in the past five years.

The sickness figure is likely to be even higher as many people are still unaware that poor oral health can put them at greater risk of acute health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and strokes.

The findings have been published by leading UK charity, the British Dental Health Foundation, as part of its annual campaign - National Smile Month - which reminds everyone to take care of their oral health.

According to Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, the findings do not come as a great surprise.

"Government statistics4 show that a quarter of all adults have not visited a dentist in the past two years and a similar number only brush their teeth once a day.

"Poor oral health habits like these contribute to around three in every ten adults suffering regular dental pain and tooth decay. It is inevitable that significant numbers of people are taking sick days off work and damaging the productivity of the UK economy.

"The importance of oral health can often be overshadowed in the workplace by the more common causes of short-term absences such as colds, flu, stomach upsets, headaches, migraines, back pain and stress. However, our findings show that it affects a significant number of workers over time and is an important factor in a healthy workforce."

National Smile Month, taking place from 20 May to 20 June, is one of the UK's longest running health campaigns and encourages everyone to brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste; cut down on how often they have sugary foods and drinks; and to visit their dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.