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News / December 9, 2013

Cash-strapped patients avoiding the dentist

by Guy Hiscott

Almost half of Irish patients have not visited their dentist in the last year, it has been claimed.

The figures, released last month by Decare Dental Insurance Ireland, suggest that the rising costs of treatment are to blame for the figures.

Nearly three quarters (72%) of 33- to 44-year-olds cited cost as the main factor that made them delay attendance, while more than half of all respondents said that they had delayed dental treatment because of price.

One saving grace with the research was a suggestion that Irish patients still value oral health, with 87% of respondents believing that bad teeth could affect their chances in job interviews, while 90% of people said that unhealthy or unsightly teeth would put them off a new partner.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Ger Gavin, Decare’s chief dental officer, said: ‘Research has shown that Ireland’s dental health is not being prioritised as per recommended national and international guidelines, mainly due to cost, which will result in long-term damage. The removal of PRSI cover and tax breaks for dental care has also meant that one in four people attend their dentist less often, leading to a further gap in care. Decare Dental Insurance offers a cost effective and financially sustainable solution to this problem which is affecting a large portion of Ireland’s population. Research has also shown that Irish customers with dental insurance are more likely to attend the dentist. developing a regular oral health routine which has long term benefits to one’s teeth and wider oral health.’

Alan Quinlan, the ex-Munster rugby player who is an ambassador for Decare, added: ‘When I played ruby professionally, I regularly had incidents that involved my teeth when on the field. A lot of us took precautions by using a mouth guard but regular visits to the dentist have always been an important part of my health regimen. I visit the dentist twice a year and a DeCare dental insurance policy is a great way to ensure that you visit the dentist frequently, while also helping to cover the cost of any procedures that might be needed.’