A recent survey found that half of those who do not visit the dentist regularly are also embarrassed about their dental health. The study was commissioned by the Singapore Dental Association and the Singapore Dental Health Foundation to look into the dental health experiences of Singaporeans including attitudes, fears and motivation relating to dental health seeking behaviours. Of the 572 survey respondents, only 4 in 10 Singaporeans had regular dental check-ups.
Reasons for staying away
The top 3 reasons given for irregular dental visits are lack of time (19%), fear of pain (12%) and seeing the need only if there is a dental problem or issue (30%). Other reasons participants cited for staying away include bad childhood experience, affordability issues and fear of discovering dental issues.
The study also found that 80% of Singaporeans were aware that absence of pain does not suggest absence of dental problems. 90% of respondents also answered correctly when asked whether gum disease affects only the elderly. This suggests that a lack of dental awareness may not be the main reason for irregular dental attendances.
Dr Goh Siew Hor, President of the Singapore Dental Association and the Singapore Dental Health Foundation, suggests that as the severity of dental disease may not be correlated to pain, many patients may misjudge the extent of dental disease until it is in the advanced stages. For instance, periodontal or gum disease which affects the amount of bone supporting the teeth can be “silent” and patients are only alerted when their teeth start to become loose. Some patients may also assume that they can play catch up later on and have all their dental issues fixed when they have the time. However, what they may not realise is that it may not always be possible to restore it back to be as good as the original.
Campaign to encourage sharing of positive dental experiences
#ToothTruths campaign is aimed to encourage Singaporeans to talk about their positive dental experiences and inspire others to take ownership of their own dental health. Over the campaign period, Singaporeans have shared about their own dental hygiene practices and how they have tried to involve their families. More details can be found on the Singapore Dental Association’s Facebook page.
The #ToothTruths survey was sponsored by Pearlie White®, Singapore’s only homegrown oral care brand.
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