There is a long held view of the traditional family GP widely trusted within the community, always on hand to dish out advice. But new research reveals that dentists are winning the race for trust, as 88 per cent of people surveyed in a new poll3 confirmed that they have a very high degree of trust in their dentist, even greater than in their doctor.
The poll, conducted by Bray Leino, also revealed twice as many people (19.7 per cent) value their relationship with their dentist over their doctor (9.9 per cent). The level of trust is reflected in the amount of people following advice from their dentist, with more than three in four people (76.4 per cent) deciding how often they went for a check-up based on when their dentist recommended.
It isn’t all good news, as the research also points to almost two in every three people not visiting the dentist for at least three years, while more than one in four people (27 per cent) who don’t visit their dentist cite fear as the reason for not doing so.
Psychologist Emma Kenny explained: “Trust underpins much of our motivation in life; when we feel that someone is on our side and has our best interests at heart it makes sense that we will act in accordance with their suggestions.
“Dentists are such important people in our lives for the whole of our lives, ensuring that our dental health and hygiene remain at a high level and encouraging good levels of self-esteem. It’s great to see how such important health professionals figure in the nation’s opinion.”
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, discussed the impact of the research on current attitudes towards oral care.
Dr Carter said: “The research is very encouraging. The excellent relationship that clearly exists between the patient and the dentist will hopefully result in oral health improvements throughout generations.
“There is a culture developing where patients will only visit their doctor when there is a problem. It is reassuring to see so many people actively choosing to seek preventive measures rather than simply waiting for something to go wrong. Those who still choose not to visit their dentist may do so for genuine reasons, and fear certainly is one, but advances in technology and the number of nervous patients means more provisions than ever before are available to treat them.
“The more the patient trusts their dentist, the more likely it is they will brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, cut down on how often they have sugary foods and drinks and, as the survey suggests, the more likely they are to visit their dentist regularly, as often as they recommend. And it doesn’t stop with advice.
“An excellent level of trust and communication will mean both the patient and the dentist would be happier discussing treatments that aren’t quite as basic. If you trust your dentist, then even as purse strings continue to tighten, you’re more likely to follow their advice if they recommend a course of orthodontic or cosmetic treatment. The key is visiting as often as they recommend.”
British Dental Health Foundation