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Poor Swedes priced out of dentistry

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11:35 CEST+02:00
Many Swedes on low incomes are suffering from poor dental health because they cannot afford to go to the dentist, according to a new report commissioned by the Swedish National Institute of Public Health, which calls for increased state subsidies for dental treatment.

The report's authors, writing in Dagens Nyheter, say that the risk of poor dental health is six times greater among people on low incomes than among those on high incomes. And they claim that the problem is growing, with the number of low-earners choosing not to go to the dentists growing by 30 percent in the past year.

The report, carried out together with Statistics Sweden and local health authorities, surveyed 33,000 people in 2004 and 40,000 people in 2005.

The authors claim that poor dental health can have major implications for people's overall health.

"Poor dental health reduces quality of life, damages social relationships and is an obstacle to good eating habits and good health," they write.

They add that unhealthy teeth and bad oral hygiene can lead to infections that affect inflammatory processes and blood cholesterol, thereby leading to increased risk of heart disease.

The reports authors call for increased state subsidies for dental check-ups. The National Insurance Administration currently pays 21 percent of the cost for a normal check-up, while the patient pays for the rest.

The report says that people with financial difficulties would be better able to afford dentistry if this subsidy was raised by a few percent.

Are Swedish dentists too expensive? Discuss!

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