How a fear of the dentist is stopping people getting vital care

Graphic by Mark HallGraphic by Mark Hall
Graphic by Mark Hall

A third of people are afraid of going to the dentist and a whopping 79 per cent say they are put off receiving dental advice - according to new research.

While we are fairly happy to visit the doctors or hospitals, visiting the dentist attracts a stigma with experts believing fear, time and cost hinders people in the UK from attending a dental practice.

A third of people in Britain say they fear a dental visit

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Further research from the NHS has shown that only 58 per cent of children visited a dentist last year, and half the adult population visited a dentist in 2017 or 2018.

A staggering 15,000 children had tooth extractions last year with nearly 13,000 of them being a result of tooth decay which, experts say, could have been avoided with regular dentist visits or advice.

Cathal Hayes

Cathal Hayes, managing director of the Centre for Dentistry, says fear is just one of the major reasons why we are avoiding the chair, with research showing time and cost also stops one in seven of us from taking a visit.

He said: “Dental anxiety is a real issue for many people – a recent survey we conducted found that fear was a key reason why people avoided the dentist.

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"Luckily, dentistry has changed greatly in the past ten to 15 years. This means that dental anxiety is reducing and dentists work hard to ensure a positive experience for patients.”

Currently, only one in ten UK adults meets the criteria for excellent oral health, with around a third suffering from tooth decay, notably caused by excess sugar. To avoid this, experts are advising people to go for a simple check-up, talk issues through with their dentists and take advice on-board.

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