In the last year, 39% of Britons have had to pay for dental bills over £50 using a credit card and 2% have been forced to take out a loan.
These shocking results come as even more people struggle to find an NHS dentist for themselves and their children (up from 59% to 63%), according to Simplyhealth’s Annual Dental Survey 2010*.
These financial consequences could also signal a public health concern.
On top of this, 43% of people confessed to having put off visiting the dentist due to cost. For 35% of these people, not visiting the dentist has brought about devastating effects. 26% have suffered long-term tooth decay, 19% have lost a tooth and 2% have needed restorative dental procedures.
James Glover, from healthcare provider Simplyhealth, explains: ‘It’s extremely worrying that people are going to these lengths to pay for their dental treatment and that others are delaying to the point of pain and long term damage.
‘The good news is that it doesn’t need to be like this. Dentists who are concerned about patients’ ability to pay for dental bills have a part to play in creating awareness and affordable and sustainable funding options like cash plans and dental plans by displaying literature in practice waiting rooms.
‘Simplyhealth, for example, provides cover for dental check-ups, treatment and emergencies through its Simply Cash Plan and Simply Dental Plan. Perfect for both NHS and private access with claims paid usually within a few days. These plans can help take away the financial bother of visiting the dentist, allowing patients to visit when they need to, not just when funds allow.’
* The research was conducted by Opinion Matters using an online fieldwork methodology. Opinion Matters surveyed 250 HR managers and 1,005 working adults between 24 February and 4 March 2010.