Nearly half the Portuguese population (46.7%) has not been to a dentist in over a year, according to an oral health barometer published by Lusa that shows the number of dental appointments has dropped 16% this year compared to 2014.
“Money problems” was the top reason for visits to the dentist leaving people’s lists of priorities, with one third of those queried confirming they have only seen a dentist in an emergency, and over 9% saying they had never been to a dentist at all.
“Women and young people from the inland areas of the north and from a higher social class” are those found most frequently in dental surgeries, while “elderly people, and people with lower incomes and living in the south” are at the other end of the scale.
Portugal’s dentists’ association, the entity behind the study, warns that there is a “direct link” between not seeing a dentist and losing one’s teeth.
Statistics show that 37% of people quizzed admitted to have lost six or more teeth – and over half had no kind of replacements. In fact, only 28% admitted to having a full set of teeth.
On the bright side, oral hygiene habits appear to be improving. Over 97% of people taking part in the study said they brush their teeth regularly, while the use of mouth washes and dental floss has also increased.
But elsewhere, the dentists’ association has warned that too many people are studying dentistry – bearing in mind there is such little demand for it here. Many are already being forced to emigrate or accept “temporary and precarious” jobs, the association revealed only two months ago.