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Fear of the dentist: Are you putting off appointments?

A trip to the dentist can be a daunting one, with fear of the sounds, smells, or the treatment itself putting many of us off. Of course dentist treatment is practised by professionals, and for the benefit of your oral health, so this fear is largely irrational. But is it stopping us from getting in the dentist’s chair?

A recent survey commissioned by Hudgell Solicitors has brought to light the UK’s phobia, with respondents asked about their dentistry habits and what it is that really gets them frightened.

Putting it off

Whilst the average Briton visits the dentist at least once a year, 9 in 10 admitted that they put off going to the dentist because of fear. Visiting the dentist caused young adults (18-24-year-olds) the most distress, with over two thirds stating that fear had put them off.

How often are we sitting in the dentist’s chair?

The study reveals disturbing oral hygiene habits, with almost a quarter of respondents admitting to not having visited their dentist for two years or more, and a further 6% admitting they hadn’t taken a turn in the dentist chair in over seven years!

Leeds respondents are the most attentive to their teeth with only 2% having not been to the dentist for two or more years, whilst Plymouth (19%) were the worst for getting their teeth regularly checked.image1

When comparing men and women, males leave a trip to the dentist the longest with the average male respondent having not been in over 15 months. This could be attributed to the fact that males also feel the most distress about a visit to the dentist, with 62% admitting that fear had caused them to avoid it.

Why are we staying away?

When asked about the reasons why they had avoided oral check-ups, an overwhelming majority (90%) stated fear as the reason for evading the dentist chair.

Londoners were the most fearful about how much the treatment would cost them, closely followed by Birmingham (39%), whilst Leeds was the least concerned suggesting, perhaps, a north south divide in treatment costs.

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Positively, bad experiences in the past had played a minimal factor in putting people off, with only 14% stating this as a reason. Similarly, horror stories from other people don’t deter us from getting treatment, with only 4% of people attributing this to why they’d missed an appointment.

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Facing fears

It’s likely that we all know someone who suffers from an irrational fear, with aversions to creepy crawlies, confined spaces or swimming in dark water. It seems that we can now categorise a visit the dentist amongst these, with UK respondents voting the dentist more frightening than their own boss, people in costumes and heights.

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Going to the dentist is unlikely to ever be something that people particularly look forward to, whether young or old, but in reality, putting off a check-up could result in a missed diagnosis, and more pain further down the line.

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Here at Hudgell solicitors, we feel it’s better to face our fears and regularly take a turn in the dentist’s chair. Your dentist owes you a duty of care, so you should expect only beneficial treatment. Should you feel that your dentist has a substandard level of care, you can read more about what constitutes as dental negligence.

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