BUPA has recently carried out a survey across the UK which reveals some very interesting statistics.
It seems that 4% of adults in the UK have never visited a dentist at any time. 14% of people in the UK have not visited a dentist at any time in the past four years, and only around 53% of adults visit their dentist regularly.
It’s not a good picture, although perhaps not one which many of us will find too surprising. But the real question is why so many people are either failing to visit a dentist on a regular basis, or making an active choice in electing not to have regular checkups.
Perhaps it is a combination of two things, the first of which relates to the recent report from the Office of Fair Trading which reveals that many patients feel that they are either provided with too little information, or the information with which they are provided is too confusing.
The report also highlighted the fact that unfortunately there were a significant number of dental surgeries actively and deliberately providing misleading information in order to try to persuade more patients to pay privately for treatments which should be available on the NHS.
Are Dentists Pricing Patients Out Of Dental Care?
But the other factor comes out of the study by BUPA which reveals that well over a third of adults in the UK believe that dental charges are too high, and that this is why they do not visit a dentist as regularly as they should do, or indeed at all.
34% of adults surveyed said that the expense was the primary reason why they have not visited a dentist, with 33% of adults admitting that in order to be able to see their dentist in order to have unexpected treatments carried out they have had to either take out a loan, ended up in debt, or made significant sacrifices in order to be able to fund the treatment necessary.
It is perhaps a little ironic that in today’s unemployment climate where so many people are desperate to obtain a good job, and with so many people believing that having good teeth helps them feel more confident and stand a better chance of gaining the job they want, that so many people are not doing anything about it.
A Self Serving Cycle Of Decay
It is clear that having a good set of teeth is far more than simply a health and hygiene issue, having a very significant impact on people’s self image.
The way in which people feel about themselves is unavoidably communicated to other people, and this in itself can directly impact on everything from relationships to success at job interviews.
It is also ironic that with so many people avoiding seeing their dentist, or feeling priced out of the opportunity to see their dentist on a regular basis, gum disease and dental problems inevitably become worse, resulting in far more invasive and involved treatments becoming necessary, and inevitably more expensive.
Following the Office of Fair Trading’s recent attack on the minority of dental practices which have been deliberately misleading patients it is clear that we can expect some form of shakeup within the industry.
The words ‘urgent reform’ have been used by the OFT, and this recent study by BUPA almost certainly goes a long way towards highlighting how important it is that we take a good long hard look at not just the way in which pricing and funding is made available, but the way in which information is communicated to patients.
Despite the fact that 4% of Britons have never visited a dentist at all, it may well be that a good proportion of these could well be persuaded to see their dentist if only we could make sure that the information on finding a dentist, registering with a surgery, and choosing affordable treatments becomes much more available, and much more transparent.