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More U.K. Dental Visits
January 29, 2013

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - More adults in the United Kingdom are visiting the dentist for regular check-ups, a national study has found. But cost and anxiety still keep people away.

Information from the 2009 Adult Dental Health Survey was compared with similar data from previous surveys. The study involved interviews with 11,380 people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. More than half also were given dental exams. Scotland did not take part in the 2009 survey.

The number of people who now get regular check-ups is higher than ever. In 1968, 40% got regular check-ups; in 2009, 61% did. Another 10% said they had an occasional check-up. About 27% visited only when they had a problem, and 2% never visited the dentist.

People who saw the dentist for regular check-ups were more likely to:

  • Brush their teeth more often
  • Use other dental hygiene products (floss, rinses)
  • Have lower levels of plaque and tartar on their teeth

About 80% of adults who recently had visited a dentist said that it was a positive experience.

Cost and anxiety were two key barriers to care. When it came to cost, 26% said that the cost of treatment options affected the treatment they chose. And 19% said they delayed care or treatment because of the cost.

Anxiety also kept people away from the dentist. About 10% of the people in this study were judged to have high levels of dental anxiety. People in this group were more likely to visit a dentist only when they had a problem, rather than for a check-up.

Everyone in the UK is entitled to dental treatment through the National Health Service (NHS). However, only some groups—such as children and pregnant women—receive treatment for free. Everyone else pays fees depending on the treatments they need. People also can visit a private-practice dentist.

In this survey, 45% of adults paid for and received their most recent dental treatment from the NHS. Another 25% received free NHS care. About 27% received private dental care. The other 3% either received a combination of care or could not remember which type of care they received.

The study was published in the January issue of the British Dental Journal.

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