Adult Dental Health Survey 2009: relationships between dental attendance patterns, oral health behaviour and the current barriers to dental care

Br Dent J. 2013 Jan;214(1):25-32. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2012.1176.


The importance of understanding barriers to dental attendance of adults in the UK was acknowledged in the first Adult Dental Health Survey in 1968 and has been investigated in all subsequent ADH surveys. In 1968, approximately 40% of dentate adults said they attended for a regular check-up; by 2009 this was 61%. Attendance patterns were associated with greater frequency of toothbrushing, use of additional dental hygiene products, lower plaque and calculus levels. Just under three-fifths of adults said they had tried to make an NHS dental appointment in the previous five years. The vast majority (92%) successfully received and attended an appointment, while a further 1% received an appointment but did not attend. The remaining 7% of adults were unable to make an appointment with an NHS dentist. The majority of adults were positive about their last visit to the dentist, with 80% of adults giving no negative feedback about their last dentist visit. Cost and anxiety were important barriers to care. Twenty-six percent of adults said the type of treatment they had opted for in the past had been affected by the cost and 19% said they had delayed dental treatment for the same reason. The 2009 survey data demonstrated a relationship between dental anxiety and dental attendance. Adults with extreme dental anxiety were more likely to attend only when they had trouble with their teeth (22%) than for a regular check-up.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dental Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Dental Care / economics
  • Dental Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dental Health Surveys
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oral Health
  • Oral Hygiene / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology