Millions getting their teeth into DIY dentistryHousehold cleaners used for teeth whitening

12 February 2009

A patient's view of a dentist at work.

Which? research released today shows that around 3 million people have resorted to DIY dentistry, with a further 3 million knowing someone else who has.

This may sound surprising but, according to a Which? survey, people would rather check their bank balance, go to the gym or face a packed Ikea on a Saturday afternoon instead of going to the dentist.

Of those trying DIY dentistry, 26% have tried to pull a tooth using pliers and 12% have tried tying a piece of string to a door handle.

Problem dentists

Some people also preferred trying DIY teeth whitening to a trip to the dentist's chair. 30% of DIY dentists admitted to attempting to whiten their teeth with household cleaning products.

The research comes as Which? launches a campaign to find out what the real problems are with dentistry today. 

We're calling on people to share their stories – good or bad – about their dental treatment.

Reacting to the findings, Which? health campaigner, Jenny Driscoll, said: 'This research shows the desperate measures people will resort to. Everyone should have access to good quality dental treatment so it’s worrying to see so many people resorting to doing it themselves.

'It’s not just the thought of going to the dentist that can bring us out in a cold sweat. For many, actually getting good treatment can be a real ordeal. Which? wants to get to the root of the problem by hearing people’s stories about going to the dentist.'

Popping ulcers

Other DIY procedures people admitted to included using household glue to stick down a filling or crown (11%), popping an ulcer with a pin (19%) trying to mend or alter dentures (8%) and trying to stick down a loose filling with chewing gum (6%).

For advice on visiting your dentist or to share your DIY dentistry story visit our report on finding a dentist.

Which? spoke to 2,631 adults in the survey. 8% had tried DIY dentistry and 8% knew someone else who had.

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