New Zealanders are terrified of the dentist's chair, with the cost and pain putting most people off.
A survey of 1117 Kiwis found 50 per cent delayed going to the dentist.
More than a sixth said they hated going, while a third said they went only when they had a problem.
Many also admitted lying to their dentists.
The most common "white lie" told to dentists by respondents was that they brushed their teeth for two minutes, twice a day.
More than an eighth said they told their dentists they flossed regularly when they did not, and 6 per cent lied when they said their last checkup was six months ago.
Dentist Phil Brake said he was often lied to by patients.
"I've heard it all," he said. "One patient told me he'd brushed his teeth only that morning yet they were covered in muck and had yesterday's lettuce wedged in between them."
Respondents were asked which aspects of their trip to the dentist were likely to cause anxiety.
The most common answer, from nearly two-thirds, was "the likely cost if there is anything wrong".
A further one-third were worried by the needles, drills or the pain.
According to the 2010 Dental Association fee survey, the average cost of a dental examination was $67.
Six per cent of those surveyed said they did not attend dental visits because they found it hard to get time off work.
However, Dr Brake said that should not be an excuse. "Two hygiene visits a year is less cost than a good meal at a restaurant.
"Dental problems never go away, they only escalate."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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