Brits frown about getting their smile caught on camera

29 May 2015 . United Kingdom
  • Over 8 in 10 (81%) Brits worry about how our their teeth look in photographs
  • More than a quarter (28%) say they won’t smile in pictures because they’re worried about their teeth looking bad in photographs or on social media
  • 42% wish they could change the appearance of their teeth, yet 47% confess they don’t know how to brush their teeth properly
  • 53% feel pressure to have great teeth because of celebrities’ gnashers
  • 29% don’t use toothpaste when brushing their teeth and nearly one in ten (9%) share a toothbrush with someone else

Modern vanity, the volume of social media pictures shared everyday and the pressure to keep up with the gleaming gnashers of celebrities’ means embarrassed Brits are getting camera shy when it comes to their teeth. A new study from Bupa reveals that over a quarter (28%) of us refuse to smile in pictures because we’re worried about our pearlies looking bad in photos or on social media, whilst 81% of us worry and fret about how our teeth look in photographs.

With 39 dental centres across the UK, providing affordable, high-quality dentistry in convenient locations close to where people work, Bupa has launched an ‘Art of Brushing’ campaign to celebrate National Smile Month and to remind Britons about the importance of cleaning their teeth properly and maintaining a healthy, daily dental routine.

And its new study highlights that we’re far from being a teeth-proud nation. 42% respondents confessed their teeth were the number one thing they would change about themselves, over a third (35%) admitted being embarrassed about the appearance of their gleamers and 63% said they wished their teeth were whiter and cleaner.

It seems sparkling celebrity teeth could be fuelling these feelings of dental inadequacy, as 53% of those polled said they feel pressured to have impeccable teeth because of those displayed by modern celebrities and public figures.

But the root cause of this anxiety about our teeth could be because Brits are not giving their gnashers and gums the proper TLC they need as 47% of respondents admitted they don’t know how to brush their teeth properly. And further dental confessions revealed that:

  • A misinformed 29% don’t even use toothpaste
  • 50% don’t use mouthwash
  • 68% don’t use floss
  • Whilst, an unhygienic 9% admitted to regularly sharing a toothbrush with someone else

The nation’s knowledge of where they should brush, and with what, also needs a refresh, as the results revealed 13% don’t polish behind their teeth, 41% don’t brush their tongue and 16% don’t clean their gums. Whilst a too-cool-to-brush one in five (20%) admitted they regularly use chewing gum as a substitute for brushing their teeth.

Commenting on the research, Dr Steve Preddy, Dental Clinical Director of Bupa Dental Services, said:

“Regular brushing and having a clean, healthy set of teeth is a vital part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Yet worryingly, our research highlights how many people are ignoring the art of brushing their teeth properly. Modern, state-of-the-art electronic toothbrushes and interdental tools provide a wealth of different ways to clean. So there should be no excuse for not brushing for two minutes twice every day, and in conjunction with seeing a dentist regularly, we encourage people not to neglect their teeth and gums!”

The digital deluge in our lives is also adding to this dental healthcare decline. As 11% confessed to forgetting to brush because of checking work emails or their social media profiles and it slipped the mind of 13% because they were watching their favourite TV show or programme. The nation’s affection for a brew saw 9% admit they’d forgotten to clean their teeth because they were making a cup of tea or coffee.

Furthermore, despite dentists recommending that we should brush twice each day for two minutes, when it comes to vital brushing time nearly half (48%) only brush for a maximum of one minute, only 11% brush for the recommended two minutes and a bristle shy 18% brush for 30 seconds or less each time they clean.

Bupa has 39 dental centres across the UK that provide affordable, high quality dentistry in convenient locations close to where people work, in comfortable and friendly environments. With a range of general dentistry and specialist treatment available across its dental centres, you can find everything from routine dental check-ups and dental hygiene treatment, to gum treatments, fillings, crowns and cosmetic treatment For further information please visit: 


Notes to editor

Bupa research carried out with OnePoll surveying 2,000 people (May 2015) on their dental habits and attitudes to brushing their teeth

Other notable findings from the research were:

  • 22% of respondents confessed they only regularly brush once a day and 4% said they regularly don’t use a toothbrush as part of their dental care routine
  • The average brushing time amongst respondents was 60 seconds, half the amount of time recommended by dentists
  • A love hungry 24% believe having good teeth makes it easier to find a partner and 44% think pristine pearly whites will give them an edge in a job interview.
  • Nearly a fifth (17%) only visit their dentist once every two years or more.
  • 15% of respondents believe a cleaning their teeth will help boost their popularity at work
  • Over one in ten (11%) believe a thorough brush of the mouth is the best hangover cure
  • In terms of UK regions, respondents from the South East were the most responsible teeth cleaners with 74% brushing the recommended twice a day, followed by Scotland (67%) and Northern Ireland (64%). The worst offending region was Yorkshire and the Humber region where only 53% of respondents brush the recommended twice a day.

About Bupa dental centres:

  • To celebrate National Smile Month Bupa is offering new patients half price dental hygiene appointments at its network of UK Dental Centres. To book an appointment or find out more please visit
  • Bupa has a network of 39 dental centres across the UK provide affordable, high-quality dentistry in convenient locations close to where people work. It has a target of owning 75 dental practices by the end of 2015.
  • Bupa Dental Centres are open to all and provide a wide variety of dental care from routine examinations to specialist treatments such as oral surgery as well as cosmetic dental treatments.
  • Bupa Dental Centres are led by experienced clinicians, working to the highest clinical standards and using the latest technology.
  • Exclusive to Bupa Dental Centres, patients can now receive full cover on all routine dental care, with no claim shortfalls or forms to fill in, using the Bupa Dental Health Plan.
  • Bupa also insures or funds over 130,000 dental customers through dental insurance and cash plans.


Bupa Press Office

Tel: +44 (0)207 656 2454 /

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

Health insurance accounts for the major part of our business with 15.7m customers and contributes over 70% of revenue. We operate clinics, dental centres and hospitals in some markets, with 15m customers. We care for around 23,000 residents in our UK, Australia, New Zealand and Spain aged care businesses.

We directly employ around 80,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, Chile, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Turkey, the US, Brazil, the Middle East and Ireland. We also have associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

For more information, visit