Belgium ranks below European average when it comes to visiting the dentist at least once per year
Belgium not only scores below European average but also lacks behind with 20% on its closest neighbours.
Based on numbers of Eurostat of which the most recent date from 2014 already, apparently only 59.7% of the Belgian population visits a dentist at least once a year. According to the 2013 health information survey conducted by Sciensano, the Belgian scientific institute on public health, this number would be slightly higher, i.e. 62%. When it comes to Belgium, according to the Eurostat numbers, 1.4% has never visited a dentist and for 38.9% the last visit to a dentist was more than a year ago.
Leader of the pack is Ireland, of which 92.6% of its population sees a dentist at least once a year, followed by Germany which is already more than 10% behind. Romania closes the pack with only 15% of its population seeing a dentist at least once a year. Compared to its neighbouring countries, Belgium lacks 20% behind on Germany, the Netherlands and Luxemburg.
Based on the 2014 Eurostat numbers, in every single country of the European Union as well as in Norway, Iceland and Turkey women tend to visit a dentist significantly more regularly than men. This corresponds to the Belgian 2013 health information survey, where women scored higher than men as well – although this difference would not be significant for the Belgian population.
Based on the conclusions of the Belgian scientific institute on public health, the main indicators for low annual dental check-up rates are threefold: (a) age, (b) financial means and (c) health literacy level. It would be very interesting to see whether the differences shown in the graph above would be satisfyingly explained by these three indicators. Or are there other parameters at play? And finally, as there never is one simple and single cause for a problem, how should the different parameters be weighed and how do they relate to one another.
 J. VAN DER HEYDEN, “Raadplegingen bij de tandarts” in S. DRIESKENS, L. GISLE (eds.), Gezondheidsenquête 2013. Rapport 3: Gebruik van gezondheids- en welzijnsdiensten, WIV-ISP, Brussel, 2015, 283-322 (only available in Dutch and French).
 The 2013 health information survey report of the Belgian scientific institute on public health refers to an education level as parameter, and not to the health literacy level as such.