Are we too worried about the dentist?

Posted by: Charlie Burrows

There’s always been a widespread generic fear of the dentist, across the UK, as well as in many other countries. In some ways it’s similar to common fears that are irrational for many people but the clinical, medical aspect of dentistry is what causes anxiety and fear for patients. Unfortunately, this causes an epidemic of sorts where many avoid the dentist at all costs and in some cases to the detriment of their health.

According to the Consumer Oral Health Survey 2019 from Simplyhealth Professionals, it shows 89% of people on dental plans visit the dentist every six months, which is an encouraging sign however, this probably shouldn’t be that surprising when patients are dedicated enough to their dental health to pay for monthly plans in the first place.

Also according to the survey, 82% of adults visit the dentist once every two years but again, this is still only a portion of the whole country and we know that the majority prefer to avoid appointments even when they’ve been sent appointment cards.

So what are the other key reasons that people have for not visiting the dentist?

 

Reasons for all Seasons

No matter what time of year, there always tends to be an excuse. So what are some of the reasons for not visiting the dentist?

  • Further treatment – they think they’ll need more treatment
  • Cost – they can’t afford it
  • They’ll go only if they need it – they only attend once they have a problem
  • They don’t have access to an NHS dentist
  • If there’s no problem, leave it alone

These are reasons which are in some cases valid but in many cases they are used in an effort to avoid going because of irrational fears which have perhaps been present since a young age.

 

Cost

The cost of dentistry is always going to be the sticking point for many, or at least those who aren’t more fearful of the treatment in comparison to the costs attached. Of course the biggest issue currently affecting the UK is the lack of access to NHS dentists because of location and distance for many, being a barrier to receiving treatment.

 

Childhood Fears

As described earlier, there is an irrational fear in the public consciousness regarding dentists. Many people have fears associated with the dentist because of the thought of letting someone perform surgery in their mouth, but in particular the most common fear is needles. Unfortunately, dentistry involves many procedures which require needles but with modern techniques, dentists can use anaesthetic gels (even flavoured ones) to numb the gum area for the injections. This can alleviate much of the pain and discomfort felt from procedures such as fillings and crown installations. Often though, the fear is worse than the reality.

 

If it isn’t broke don’t fix it

The attitude of leaving something alone if there’s no obvious problem is a common one but the issue is more the long term effects of this. By avoiding regular check-ups and dental hygiene appointments you run the risk of plaque build-up, gum disease and eventually tooth decay, as well as many other potential problems. The advice will always be to have regular dental check-ups, maintain dental health and brush regularly. If you go years and years without dental assessments, this can have a big negative impact on your future health.