Less than a third of ethnic Portuguese nationals have all their natural teeth, while more than ten percent have lost eight teeth or more, according to a barometer carried out at the request of the national Dentists’ Association.
According to the 2017 Portuguese oral health barometer, 68 percent of Portuguese have lost at least one tooth, while more than one in three have lost as many as five teeth.
The survey, which included Madeira and the Azores, also found that almost half of Portuguese have not seen a dentist in the past year, while one in four have only seen a dentist in an emergency.
According to the barometer, which provides an overview of dental health in Portugal and excludes wisdom teeth, more than a third of the Portuguese population with six or more missing teeth opt to go without dental prostheses, dentures or implants.
And wealth, it seems, has some bearing on the situation as overall, “wealthier people have a lot more teeth than those with fewer resources”, said the president of the Dentist’s Association, Orlando Monteiro da Silva.
“There are two weights and two measures […]. The part of the country that has access to more care has lost fewer teeth and better oral hygiene habits. We all have a duty to combat this dichotomy,” he told Lusa News Agency.
The barometer also found that while more Portuguese are visiting the dentist, those who did not, say it is either because they do not feel the need to, or do not have the finances. The vast majority of Portuguese – 90 percent – undergo dental treatment through private
The study further stressed that more than seven out of ten Portuguese people are unaware that the SNS now offers dental treatments in several health centres.
The Dentists’ Association believes it is essential that the Ministry of Health makes more of an effort to disseminate this development among the population.
Its president recalled that a pilot project that placed 54 dentists into some 50 health centres has been under way for a year.
Analysing the barometer, Orlando Monteiro da Silva highlighted the “great confidence people have in their dentist” and also the fact that “very few people today claim to be afraid of going to the dentist”.
“There has been radical change over the last few years”, he said.
This barometer of oral health has statistical validity and was carried out through 1,102 face-to-face interviews in all Portuguese regions.