Friday, March 25, 2011

A visit to the dentist’s chair isn’t usually considered a treat.

But our check-ups are becoming less frequent as the recession makes them a luxury we can’t afford.

One in five of us has put off vital dental check-ups and treatment because the cost is too high, a survey has revealed.

Hard to swallow: Many patients would opt to have a tooth removed rather than get it treated

And more than a quarter say that when they do make it to the surgery, the expense affects their choice of treatment – with some opting to have teeth removed rather than paying for costlier preservation methods such as root canals and bridgework.

The results of the Adult Dental Health Survey come as patients prepare for the cost of seeing an NHS dentist to rise again next month.

Patients will pay £204 for the most complex treatments and £17 for a check-up – compared with just £6 in 2005.

In the survey of 11,000 participants, commissioned by the NHS Information Centre and the Office for National Statistics, 26 per cent of adults said the dental treatment they opted for was influenced by cost, and 19 per cent had delayed treatment for the same reason.

More than half had tried to make an NHS dental appointment recently, but almost one in ten said they had not been able to.

Research for the British Dental Association published last month showed the economic climate had led to a surge in canceled or deferred appointments and a rise in emergency treatment.

Dr John Milne, chairman of the BDA’s general dental practice committee, said: ‘While it’s understandable that patients’ financial anxieties are leading them to defer appointments and treatment, achieving short-term money savings at the expense of longer-term health problems really isn’t wise.’

 A Department of Health spokesman said more ‘can and should be done to tackle persistent inequalities’ in dental care.


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