Responding to a national survey last year, both men and women said a nice smile was a person’s most attractive feature. Yet, women are almost twice more likely to have regular dental checkups than men. Women seem to have a better understanding about what good oral health means.

Why do men not want to go to the dentist?

Results from a survey found

  • 18% blamed busy schedules
  • 30% said men are more embarrassed or afraid to go to the dentist
  • 45% believed men don’t see a need to visit the dentist

Men tend to avoid preventive dental care and rather just go to the dentist when there is a problem, even though the problem itself may have been avoidable through regular dental cleanings and exams. Additionally, societal norms insinuate that men should “tough it out,” and visiting a dentist or a doctor may be perceived as a sign of weakness. For some it may also be fear of pain or injections, the sound of the drill or the dislike of being “restricted” in the dentist’s chair.

Why Are regular dental appointments important?

Visiting the dentist at least twice a year is crucial to maintaining a healthy mouth and a healthy body. Many oral health problems affect overall health, and if not caught and treated early, some of these issues can be severe. Scheduling and keeping appointments with your dentist can help curb these serious problems or at least catch them before they have a chance to affect the rest of the body. Some of these concerns include:

  • Oral cancer that can affect the lips, tongue, throat, and cheeks
  • Gum disease which can increase the risk for heart disease
  • Sleep apnoea which commonly leads to high blood pressure

Health Service dental charges and treatments

The Health Service provides the dental care and treatment necessary to keep your mouth and teeth healthy. Depending on your circumstances, you may have to pay for all or some of your dental treatment.  If you aren’t entitled to free treatment or help with the treatment cost, you need to pay for some Health Service Dental Treatment. The charge is 80% of the dentist’s fee up to £384. (October 2018)

Treatments available from a Health Service dentist include:

  • an examination and assessment
  • radiographs (x-rays)
  • non-surgical treatment like scaling, polishing, periodontal (gum) treatments, marginal fillings and oral hygiene instruction
  • surgical treatments like wisdom and other tooth removal
  • Fillings  New regulations in the UK and the European Union (EU) came into law in 2018 restricting the use of mercury to reduce environmental pollution. These affect the use of dental amalgam, sometimes known as metal or silver fillings, even though there is no evidence of any harm to health.  If you already have amalgam fillings, there is no evidence to suggest that these are harmful to you or indeed indirectly to a baby’s or infant’s health. Unless your amalgam fillings are broken or there is further decay, and urgent treatment is required, your dentist will not remove or replace them.
  • root canal fillings
  • other treatments such as bridges, crowns, and dentures
  • referral to a dental hospital for specialist treatment

Am I eligible for free dental treatment?

You get free dental treatment in Northern Ireland if you are:

  • aged under 18
  • aged 18 and in full-time education
  • pregnant, or have had a child, within the 12 months before treatment starts
  • a hospital inpatient and the treatment is carried out by a hospital dentist
  • getting, or your partner gets, Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • entitled to, or named on a valid tax credit exemption certificate
  • a war pensioner and need the dental treatment test because of a disability which you receive a war pension for
  • a Hospital Dental Service outpatient
  • a Community Dental Service patient

Belfast School of Dentistry

Looking for free dental treatment? Can you be flexible with daytime appointments? Queen’s Dental School is offering free dental treatment for adults who may require straightforward treatment such as fillings, crowns and root canal work or simple gum treatment as part of the School’s student dentist training programme. The offer applies to routine dental treatment and not emergency problems. They are unable to offer dentures, dental implants, tooth whitening or orthodontics.

 Courses of treatment are available at the following clinics:

  • Bradbury Wellbeing and Treatment Centre, 1-17 Lisburn Road, Belfast
  • Beech Hall Wellbeing and Treatment Centre, 21 Andersonstown Road, Belfast
  • School of Dentistry, Royal Victoria Hospital site

Interested patients will need to be assessed for their suitability and, if accepted for treatment, be able to attend daytime appointments. Work will be carried out by student dentists under qualified supervision. There is NO charge for this treatment. To find out more telephone: (028( 90636394 or email

Do you go to the dentist regularly? If not, why not? Let us and others know by joining or starting the conversation below.