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Counting the cost of neglecting oral health

Thursday, 21 Feb 2013 12:00

Three in every four people would point to their bank balance as a reason for not visiting the dentist, a new poll reveals. When quizzed about what would most prevent people from going to the dentist, 75 per cent of people said cost1.

The squeeze on budgets in the last 12 months is plain for all to see. In March 2011, findings released by the Adult Dental Health Survey - undertaken every 10 years - revealed just over a quarter (26 per cent) of adults said the type of dental treatment they opted for was influenced by cost, while nearly one in five (19 per cent) said they had delayed having treatment for financial reasons.

In times of economic difficulty, it is understandable to look at ways to trim money off monthly outgoings. However, heart diseases, strokes, pneumonia, diabetes and pregnancy complications are proven conditions that have been made worse by poor oral health.

According to Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, dental care is one luxury you cannot afford to lose.

Dr Carter said: "While budgets are feeling the squeeze, there is a very good reason looking after your oral health should not be cut-back. You may think you're saving yourself some pennies in the short-term, but the cost of neglecting your oral health is even higher.

"The financial savings of prevention - to your mouth and to your wallet - are much higher than if you put off oral health treatment until it's too late. Regular check-ups can nip problems in the early stages. If you forego basic check-ups due to cost, there's every chance when something goes wrong and you do need to visit the dentist you'll have to pay a much larger amount upfront.

"There are three basic price bands under NHS treatment, starting from £17.50. There are circumstances in which you may be exempt from paying for treatment, including if you are pregnant. The Foundation's Dental Helpline, staffed by fully trained experts, are on hand between Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm to field any questions you may have. They can also be contacted via our website if you are unsure about any treatments or charges."

The survey also showed one in five (19 per cent) blamed their fear of the dentist for not visiting their dentist. Only six per cent said access was the major barrier. Dr Carter added: "If you haven't seen a dentist for years through fear or anxiety, be reassured that you should find the experience dramatically more bearable nowadays.

"Most people who are scared of the dentist have bad memories from childhood of the smells and sounds of the surgery. Modern dental surgeries are much friendlier environments with flowers in the waiting room, art on the walls, a pleasant reception area and polite staff.

"It's altogether a gentler experience."


1.British Dental Health Foundation (2013). ‘Which of these would most prevent you from going to the dentist', Survey.

Which of these would most prevent you from going to the dentist?

Option - Total - Percentage
Access -  12    -  6%
Cost -     153  -  75%
Fear -     39    -  19%

Total Votes Cast : 204

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