Cost is still a deterrent to visiting a dentist with a fifth of people viewing it as a luxury despite NHS dentistry becoming more accessible, according to new research.
It also revealed that more people felt private care offered a better service than last year while some felt NHS treatment was getting worse.
The Simplyhealth Annual Dental Survey canvassed 10,000 people and found that 40% of respondents were putting off going to the dentist because of they could not afford it.
This was supported by a fifth (19%) of people overall who said visiting the dentist was a 'luxury' rather than an 'everyday need', epitomised by almost a third (31%) of 18-24 year olds holding that view.
However, the number struggling to find an NHS dentist dropped by a quarter on last year with 29% saying they were having problems doing so compared to 39% in 2010.
This figure is much closer to the 2008 level, indicating there may have been a change of focus or increased demand for NHS treatment during the recession periods of 2009 and 2010.
Some respondents did identify a decline in the quality of NHS services, though this appeared to be a significant minority.
According to the provider's results, a third of total replies said the NHS did not cover as much as it used to (18%) or that they felt they did not receive the same level of treatment (17%) as previously.
These results, it appears, do not indicate the public has an overwhelming concern with falling NHS standards.
However, Simplyhealth felt that when combined with the 20% who said they were not being asked to see their dentist as regularly, it showed a drop in quality was occurring.
Perhaps more encouragingly for private practice, 37% said that private dentists provided a better service (up from 30% in 2010) than the public sector.
This was put down to flexibility of appointments, improved treatment and a belief that private dentists pay more attention to patients concerns.
Simplyhealth research suggests
Thursday 12 March
From 6 January 2020
Research by Unum shows
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