Medical Loyalty: Patients Prefer Dental Consistency

Medical Loyalty: Patients Prefer Dental Consistency

According to Denplan’s 2023 Oral Healthcare Report, 59% of the population say they are more likely to see a familiar face when they visit their dentist than their family doctor.

The revelation may come as a surprise to many in the profession, beset as it is with recruitment difficulties and a migration of dentists from the NHS into private practice.

Less surprising is the loyalty expressed by patients to their dentist.  When a patient needs to see a Dr many accept the first available appointment whoever it may be with.

When seeking a routine dental appointment, however, 25% of respondents had been seeing the same dentist for over ten years and 7% reported seeing the same dentist for life.

A good relationship between dentist and patient is a key component in dental service delivery.  Two-thirds (66%) of people told the survey that consistency meant they felt comfortable with their dentist and 91% of people who attend the dentist at least every two years agreed that it was ‘important to trust your dentist’. 

Although a worrying percentage of the population do not access dentistry, be it through choice or, more likely, because they can’t find a practice with the capacity to see them, 28% of those that do consult a dentist had used their audience with a man or woman in a white coat to ask about other healthcare issues. 

Shamir Chandarana, Principal Dentist at Dental House, Sunbury-on-Thames said: “At a time when GP appointments are increasingly difficult to come by, my colleagues and I have definitely noticed an uptick in wider healthcare questions - a role that would have traditionally been played by the family doctor. We can help to identify other health conditions, but then need to refer patients on for any symptoms to be managed properly.

Of those that were referred, 20% were diagnosed with skin condition, 15% with iron-deficiency (anaemia), 10% with diabetes and a further 10% with a viral condition (e.g. herpes).

Denplan’s Oral Healthcare Report is one of the most comprehensive reports into attitudes and habits in UK dentistry, surveying over 5,000 consumers in the UK who used both NHS and private dentists.

Other findings from the survey include

  • Over half (51%) of people say their entire family all sees the same dentist.
  • Six in ten (60%) say they would not consider changing dental practices because they want to keep their current dentist. 
  • Almost a third (32%) of people worry about the cost of going to a dentist
  • Over a third (34%) of respondents saying they have previously postponed or cancelled a dentist appointment because they could not afford it.
  • Patients with a private dental payment plan set up said they’d chosen this option because it gave them peace of mind (30%) or helped them to be more proactive about their oral health (26%).

Dentist and Clinical Director at Denplan Catherine Rutland said: “Our survey demonstrates the vital role of the dentist in public life, with over a quarter (28%) of adults saying they have asked their dentist about problems other than their oral health and a majority (59%) saying they actually see the same dentist more often than their doctor.

However, dentists are already stretched and this growing shift of the wider healthcare burden is indicative of the mounting pressure on health services”.


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