Some areas have over 3,000 people per NHS dentist, so people struggling to get an appointment. An NHS dentist rescue plan is needed to prevent desperate people resorting to DIY dentistry.
House of Commons Library research shows how the rise in “dental deserts” has left people struggling to get an appointment, with 65 of 104 local areas in England seeing the number of people per dentist rise since 2019.
In Warwickshire the percentage of adults seen by a dentist in 2022 was 42% compared with 55% in 2015. For children the percentage fell from 61% to 53%.
The dental healthcare rescue plan should include:
1) spending the estimated £400 million of funding for NHS dental services that went unspent 2022/23 to boost the number of appointments;
2) reform of the NHS dental contract to incentivise dentistd to take on NHS patients,
3) extra resources for mobile dental units to visit schools, community centres and care homes;
4) ensure children, pregnant women and young mothers have access to their free check ups on time;
5) supervised tooth brushing training for children in early years settings, such as nurseries, and
6) the removal of VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.
The latest figures show that fewer than one in two (44.8%) children saw an NHS dentist in the last year, while just one third of adults saw an NHS dentist in the last two years.
A poll commissioned by the Liberal Democrats last year revealed a staggering one in five (21%) people who failed to get an NHS dentist appointment in the past year turned to DIY dentistry.