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Kids’ teeth time bomb as third of parents wrongly think trips to dentist hit them in pocket

- Fears of child dental crisis as 33% of parents don’t realise kids’ treatment is free
- Under pressure NHS reveals tooth decay is top cause of child hospital admission
- Findings come at the start of National Smile month

London, 15 May 2017 - A tooth decay time bomb threatens the nation’s children because 1 in 3 (33%) Brits don’t realise dental care is free for kids, research by Europe's largest dental care provider, mydentist, has revealed.

The study comes after the NHS revealed tooth decay was the top cause of child hospital admissions*.

Britain is a nation reluctant to visit the dentist because of a host of misconceptions surrounding the cost of dental care when many have the right to free treatment.

The survey, carried out for National Smile Month (May 15 - June 15), revealed a third (33%) of Brits are unaware that children are exempt from dental care costs. Meanwhile, nearly half (48%) of the 2000 people polled didn’t realise that under-19s in full time education are exempt, too.

They survey also showed more than 2 in 5 (43%) had no idea that pregnant women or those who have had a baby in the past 12 months are entitled to free treatment. These misconceptions mean millions are missing out on essential dental care and putting their oral health at risk.

Worryingly, over a quarter (27%) of respondents said they had not visited the dentist in the past two years, saying they either can’t afford it, think waiting lists are too long or don’t believe they can get NHS treatment. Almost 1 in 10 (9%) never visit the dentist full stop.

Other key findings:

  • Of those not currently receiving any dental care, nearly half (47%) thought it was too expensive or they couldn’t afford it
  • A further 1 in 5 (22%) currently opt for private dental care and, of those, almost half (45%) revealed they only went private because they thought they would have to wait too long for an NHS appointment or wouldn’t get one at all in their area
  • More than 1 in 5 (22%) of those who receive private dental care wrongly think that they can’t access NHS treatment at all because they don’t receive benefits
  • A quarter (24%) of Brits are unhappy with the dental care they currently receive

Steve Williams, Clinical Services Director at mydentist, comments:

“These are truly worrying statistics. Despite oral health improving in children in recent decades, the number one reason for hospital admissions remains tooth decay even though children receive free treatment.

“We need to raise awareness among parents so that children are taken to the dentist regularly to help prevent the problems at an early stage. Simple things like painting fluoride on children’s teeth from an early age twice a year can make a real difference, while regular visits to the dentist should be a given.

“Even among adults, we see millions not taking advantage of treatment they are entitled to cost free, or paying for private treatment because of a misconception that waiting lists are excessively long.

“May 15 marks the start of National Smile Month so we want to raise awareness of the importance of good oral health.”