Financial fear of the dentist worse than the drill

Dentist - Photo by sj_sanders

It used to be a fear of the dentist that kept us away from the dental chair but today it is more than twice as likely to be the cost of dental care that’s holding us back, according to research from Tesco Bank.

Over a third of us (35%) haven’t visited the dentist in more than 18 months and one in ten hasn’t been for more than five years. Just 13% admit to staying away for fear of the drill. However, for almost a third, it is the high cost of treatment that stops them from visiting the dentist and a further third (34 per cent) have not registered with a local dentist.

The survey, examining our oral hygiene habits, also reveals that a lack of available NHS treatment is causing people to travel further for their dental treatment. So highly-valued is NHS treatment that, on average, a UK adult would travel nine miles to secure a place with an NHS dentist.

These journeys, or “dental miles”, increase to as many as 16 for the people of Aberystwyth or 13 for Geordies.

Prepared to travel the most “dental miles” to register with an NHS dentist:

RankCityAverage miles
1.Aberystwyth16 miles
2.Newcastle13 miles
3.Swansea11.5 miles
4.Gloucester11 miles
5.Aberdeen11 miles




Head of Tesco Dental Insurance, Jeremy Sutton, commented: “Far from being a nation of ‘dentophobes’, the research actually suggests we are prepared to go the extra mile, or even ten, in order to receive affordable dental care. Dental health should be a major part of everyone’s daily routine and regular check-ups can actually reduce the risk of needing expensive major procedures.”

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