A new national study on dental health has found only half of adults are aware of their basic entitlement of a free check-up and only one in three has availed of it.

Most adults consider their teeth and gums to be in good health when this is not the case, according to Fintan Hourihan, the chief executive if the Irish Dental Association, which commissioned the survey.

Most people only visit a dentist when they really need to, such as in an emergency.

Just 33% visit their dentist every year, 15% less often than every four to five years and 7% never go to the dentist.

On average, people have been visiting the same dentist for over 11 years.

Annual attendees are much more likely to be middle class, female and under 44-years-old

There is a much higher frequency of visits among those with private medical and dental insurance.

Most people believe that with the dental health products available in supermarkets and chemists, they can maintain the health of their teeth to a much greater extent than 10 years ago.

The survey shows a strong link between heavy users of dental products and more frequent attendance at the dentist.

The IDA says the survey shows that awareness that dentists have reduced charges in recent years is minimal.

The survey suggests that people have reduced their visits to the dentist in recent years, while on balance visits to their GP have increased.

The face-to-face survey in respondent's homes involved 750 interviews with people aged 16 years and older.

The survey was conducted in September by Behaviour & Attitudes.