Major Survey on Irish Dental Health

Irish Dentists publishes major survey on Irish dental health

Four out of five Irish people believe their teeth and gums are healthy and look good according to a new dental health survey.

However the survey also found 23% of people are visiting the dentist less often since 2010 while 58% of those surveyed said they would only consider visiting the dentist in an emergency situation.

According to the survey of 750 adults, which was carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes on behalf of the Irish Dental Association, 46% of Irish people are spending less on dental health while 41% rarely if ever think of visiting the dentist.

The Chief Executive of the IDA, Fintan Hourihan said the survey shows the impact the recession is having on dental health and a disconnect between what people think and how they act.

“One in four Irish people are attending the dentist less often. In population terms this equates to 760,000 adults. It’s clear this is having a hugely negative impact on the dental health of the population. While over 80% believe their gums are healthy, according to the most recent national oral health survey, 80% of Irish people have some form of gum disease.

While 94% of respondents said they thought dental health is important almost 60% said they would only attend a dentist when they really need to or in an emergency. Financial pressures are definitely a factor here but so also is the lack of information from the HSE. The survey shows that only half of Irish adults are aware of their State dental entitlement of a free check up and only 1 in 3 have availed of it” Mr Hourihan said.

Mr Hourihan said the survey showed the need to reach out to non-attenders and a restoration of the benefits which were previously available under the Medical Card and PRSI schemes.

“According to the survey, people who attend their dentist annually are much more likely to be middle class females under 44 years. Frequency of dental visits shows a strong age pattern, declining sharply from 45 years onwards. The Department of Health needs to reach out to the people who are not attending and encourage them to do so. The cost of preventative treatment will be much less than the cost of the current neglect” Mr Hourihan warned.

The survey also found that Irish people prefer to consistently visit the same practice and/or health practitioner. On average, Irish people visit the same dentist for over 11 years.

It also found that dentists continue to enjoy the confidence of the general public with over 95% of respondents saying they trust the care they receive from them and 94% saying they trust their advice.