Health in the UK Divorce over dentist - Toothpick

1 in 7 Brits would rather endure a divorce than go to the dentist

The state of the nation’s teeth has been a running joke for decades, but it seems we’re no closer to the perfect smile. New research carried out at Toothpick reveals that one in seven of us would rather endure a divorce, move house or attend a job interview than go to the dentist.

With one third of Brits admitting to not having visited the dentist in more than two years it is inevitable that the state of the nation’s teeth is suffering. This combined with, in some cases, the need for extensive treatment when we do manage to get there, it is little wonder we avoid the dentist’s chair. According to the Dental Health Organisation 12% of us suffer from extreme dental anxiety. So what exactly is it about the dentist that we fear?

Men avoid the dentist for fear of being scolded about their dental health and worry about the cost

It seems that for men the reluctance stems from fear of being scolded about the state of their teeth, with nearly a quarter of men surveyed (23.3%) citing this as the main reason for avoiding checkups. They were equally worried about experiencing further pain and when asked to state any other reasons 38% were worried about the impact on their wallet.

The biggest fear for women is the noise of the drill (35%) followed by the worry of further pain (23.1%) and the third most likely complaint is a phobia of needles (12.8%). A small proportion also find the reclining of the chair a problem (3.8%). The sterile smell and invasion of personal space were also cited as reasons to avoid the dentist.

Age also plays a factor in how much we worry about having to go to the dentist. 45-54 year olds were most likely to fear the dentist above all else (18.7%), closely followed by 55-64 year olds (16.7%). The least worried were the 18-24 year olds with just 8.7% saying the dentist was the most stressful event they could experience.

Those in the East of England, East Midlands and North East four times as likely to find the dentist stressful than Londoners

The results also highlighted some regional differences in attitudes towards the dentist. Londoners and the Welsh were the least likely to fear the dentist with just 5.9% of those surveyed in both regions classing it as the most stressful event. However those based in the North East, East of England and East Midlands were the most likely to fear the dentist’s chair with one in five people describing the dentist as their biggest fear.

REGIONAL TABLE: The percentage per region of those surveyed by Toothpick who selected a trip to the dentist as the most stressful life event.

Region Percentage
East of England 21.1
East Midlands 20.8
North East 19
Northern Ireland 14.3
North West 13.9
Scotland 13.4
South East 8.1
South West 7.1
Wales 5.9
London 5.9

We asked our co-founder Sandeep, who was previously a practising dentist, to comment: “It’s clear that as a nation we still have a deep-seated fear of the dentist and the less we visit the dentist, the more likely we are to perpetuate a vicious circle.”

“When we don’t visit the dentist, we are more likely to experience more dental decay or other problems with our teeth compared to when we have regular check-ups. This of course leads to dental pain and reinforces a fear of the dentist when we do go and have to have more intensive treatment.”

“While many of us may never learn to relish the thought of a trip to the dentist, certain things could be done to help. For instance clarity on the cost breakdowns for those who worry about money, better systems to enable nervous patients to select a dentist specialising in treating those with dental phobias and generally more choice and control over who we see, could go some way to making us less fearful.”

Do these figures mirror how you feel about going to the dentist? Leave a comment and let us know.