Top Reasons People Skip the Dentist

Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
Last Modified:

Table of Contents

  1. Top Dental Procrastinators
  2. Dental Anxiety
  3. Orthodontic Woes
  4. Methodology
  5. Fair Use

Regular dental appointments are necessary for good oral health. The American Dental Association recommends people get their teeth checked every six months or at least once a year, but many Americans actually haven’t been in years! If you don’t like going to the dentist, you’re not alone. 

We surveyed more than 1,000 people to ask them about the dentist, and why they put off their appointments. People living in certain cities procrastinate a lot more than others, and we found that it’s not only anxiety that is keeping people away.

Top Dental Procrastinators

Reasons people are skipping the dentist

Seven out of ten people do not like going to the dentist. More than three out of five (61%) admitted to purposefully putting off an appointment, and it’s with good reason. More than half (52%) said they had a bad experience at the dentist. 

Using Google search trends, we looked at which cities are searching the most about things like dental anxiety and cost. We found the biggest group of dental procrastinators are living in Las Vegas. It looks like people would rather try their luck at the slots than in a dental chair. Other cities putting off going to the dentist include Miami, Atlanta, Arlington, and Minneapolis.

Dental Anxiety

Reasons people are skipping the dentist_1

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, 30% of people have not been to the dentist. On top of that, more than one-third (34%) do not go regularly. That number is even higher in rural communities where 41% go inconsistently or not at all. 

The top reasons for avoiding the dentist are:

  1. Cost

  2. Dental anxiety

  3. Not wanting to go

  4. Worried about a cavity or needing a procedure

  5. No insurance

Along with saving money, dental anxiety plays a big role in the reason people skip the dentist. More than two out of five (44%) avoid appointments because they’re too anxious or afraid. In fact, 42% surveyed said they have dental anxiety. 

Miami is already one of the biggest dental procrastinators, and it looks like dental anxiety is the main reason. By analyzing Google search trends, we found the Florida city is the most afraid of the dentist. Miami is followed by Minneapolis, Raleigh, Bakersfield, and Atlanta. 

Across the nation, many people dealing with dental anxiety don’t live far from each other. Four of the top ten cities are in California (Bakersfield, Long Beach, Oakland, and Sacramento). Out of the top 20, two are also in Arizona (Tucson and Mesa).

Orthodontic Woes

Reasons people are skipping the dentist_2

While many people put off the dentist, that doesn’t mean they’re happy with the way their teeth look. More than half (51%) are self-conscious about their teeth. The main issues that bother them are the color, crooked or crowded teeth, their smile, teeth shape or size, and gaps. 

Nearly half (44%) have gotten braces to try and fix their teeth, but it looks like many people may need to fix their teeth again in the future. Of those who had braces, 75% admitted they don’t consistently wear their retainer. Over time, their teeth could shift again, and they could end up needing more orthodontic work done. If that happens many are not planning to get braces again. Only 5% of people said they would consider braces in the future. 

More than a quarter (26%) would skip braces and consider getting invisible aligners instead. Clear teeth aligners are cheaper, less noticeable, and some can be worn at-night only instead of during the day. 

Either way, skipping out on the dentist is not the way to go. If you’re afraid, there are dentists who specialize in helping patients with dental anxiety. As for orthodontics, you can now straighten your teeth in the comfort of your own home. Using teledentistry services like Byte, the process can be done without going into a physical office. Your teeth will thank you in the long run.


In June 2022, we surveyed 1107 people to get their feedback on the dentist. Survey respondents ranged in age from 18 to 83. The average age of respondents was 39. 49% were female, 48% male, 2% were nonbinary, and 1% were transgender. 55% said they live in the suburbs, 29% live in the city, and 16% live in rural areas.

We also analyzed Google search volume of 200 phrases and questions related to the dentist such as “how often should you go to the dentist,” “dental anxiety,” and “how much does a dentist appointment cost.” Variations of these phrases and keywords were analyzed over the period of January 2019 to April 2022. Dental procrastinators were determined using terms about generic dentist questions, dental anxiety, and cost. Cities most afraid of the dentist were determined by analyzing phrases related specifically to dental anxiety. We examined the top 50 cities by population.

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Fair Use

When using this data and research, please attribute by linking to this study and citing

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.