Rui Vieira/PA Wire

According to healthcare provider Simplyhealth's Annual Dental Survey 2012 cost is a major factor in preventing regular visits to the dentist.

The poll of 11,785 British adults, revealed more than a fifth claim they can't afford to go and one in ten are worried that the cost may be too high since they have not been for sometime. So is the economic environment is stopping people visiting the dentist more frequently?

How long do we put off going to the dentist?

Standards set by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) state that people should not leave longer than 24 months between dental appointments.

However, 20 per cent of those surveyed have not visited one in 18 months or more and 54 per cent admit to concerns about their ability to afford dental care in the future.

What treatment are you entitled to on the NHS?

The NHS will provide all treatment that your dentist decides is clinically necessary for your dental health, and there are three bands of charges for treatment.

Band 1 - £17.50 The cost for a routine examination, any x-rays, and a scale and polish.
Band 2 - £48.00 This includes everything in band 1 plus further treatment like fillings, the removal of teeth or root canal work.
Band 3 - £209.00 This includes everything in bands 1 and 2 plus more extensive work like crowns, dentures and bridges.

Treatments for aesthetic purposes - for instance white fillings instead of standard ones - are not available on the NHS.

22 per cent of respondents said they have received dental bills of over £300 and 44 per cent admit to paying for their treatment with a credit card.

Transparency

Whilst access to NHS dentists is improving - only 16 per cent of respondents say they struggled to find an NHS dentist compared with 29 per cent last year and 39 per cent in 2010 - there are still concerns over pricing.

Worryingly 48 per cent of respondents say they have never noticed their dental practice clearly displaying prices, or had them explained by their dentist. And some NHS practices have come under fire for charging over the odds for treatment and not providing adequate care.

Value for money?

James Glover, spokesperson for Simplyhealth comments: "Concerns over the cost of dental treatment are apparent. During difficult financial times when every expenditure is scrutinised, perceived value for money for individuals is essential.


"Our survey shows that this is not always the case with dentistry, as only half believe that visiting the dentist is very good or fairly good value for money. This lack of value, in addition to an increasing number of other financial constraints may also be having a negative effect on the nation's dental health."

Michael Thomas, practicing dentist and Simplyhealth's Dental Advisor states: "When money is tight it can be the case that non urgent appointments, which could include routine visits to the dentist, are over looked.

"It is, however, essential that people still continue with their scheduled routine visits to the dentist. These appointments are not only designed to diagnose current problems but they are also all about helping to prevent dental problems from occurring."