Less than 50% go on routine visits to dentist


Less than half the population routinely visit the dentist and the poor go much less regularly than the wealthy, according to a new survey.

It was published yesterday as part of a campaign supported by the Irish Dental Association to improve dental health. Dentists recommend that people change their toothbrush three times a year. The Irish change theirs only once a year, less than the British but more than the Spanish who buy a new toothbrush only 0.7 times a year.

The survey by Prof Louis Buckley of Cork Dental School and Hospital, showed that only 44 per cent of the population routinely visit the dentist. Half the population only visit a dentist in an emergency. Women were more likely to visit the dentist routinely than men - 47 compared to 41 per cent. Dubliners were also more likely to attend regularly - 47 per cent compared to 42 per cent in Connacht and Ulster. However, the greatest differences were between social classes.

While 59 per cent of more well-off ABs visited the dentist regularly, only 35 per cent of C2DEs did. Five per cent of the population never go to the dentist. This includes 7 per cent of C2DEs but only 2 per cent of ABs. Concern has been previously expressed at the high cost of dental treatment in the State and PRSI conditions on eligibility for dental benefits. Almost twice as many people in Connacht/Ulster as in Dublin never visit the dentist. Less than half the population floss regularly - nearly 60 per cent of women but only 38 per cent of men. Thirteen per cent of people said they never clean between their teeth.

The survey was published as Colgate Palmolive launched oral health month in partnership with the Irish Dental Association. The initiative, which has been run across the world, is aimed at improving dental health.

People are encouraged to bring their old toothbrushes to collection points where they will receive a discount coupon towards a new toothbrush. For every toothbrush "decommissioned", 50 cents will be donated to Children at Risk in Ireland (CARI) and a new toothbrush donated to the Chernobyl Children's Project. The "oral health roadshow" will visit five shopping centres in Dublin, Galway, Waterford and Cork. The president of the Irish Dental Association, Dr Patrick Cleary, said: "The campaign appears to have been very successful in other European countries and has encouraged non-attending members of the public to seek advice on dental and oral health."

The launch was also attended by Minister of State, Dr Jim McDaid, and the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mr Royston Brady.