It’s enough to leave you feeling down in the mouth – half the population has put up with toothache instead of getting the problem seen to.
Being scared of the dentist or not being able to afford treatment are among the main reasons.
Shock research has also found that a frightening amount – two million people – have not been to the dentist in 10 years.
Many of us admit cleaning teeth only once a day or not bothering to brush when in a hurry.
The findings of the National Dental Survey paint a bleak picture. But Dr Eddie Coyle, clinical director of Bupa Dental Care, which carried out the research, said: “Dental decay is completely preventable with regular check-ups and simple changes to your daily routine.”
A third say they never floss or visit a hygienist.
The numerous bad habits mean that three-quarters of people have fillings and two-thirds have at least one tooth extracted in their lifetime, the research shows.
A fifth said they do not have regular check-ups because they are afraid of the dentist. Almost as many ignore signs of pain due to this fear.
Other reasons for not seeking help in the dentist’s chair include the hope the pain will go away.