Almost two thirds of adults (58%) think NHS dentistry has deteriorated in the last decade, with 40% saying access is ‘much more difficult’.
In a new survey called the ‘Great British Oral Health report’, researchers expose the realities of NHS dentistry across the UK.
Carried out by Mydentist, the report also reveals significant support for the international recruitment of dentists.
Around 78% of participants back the recruitment of highly skilled dentists from outside of the UK to help fill the gap of NHS dentists.
The growing postcode lottery when it comes to NHS access shows that only 7.7% of practices in the south west are taking on new patients.
Additionally more than 50,000 people are on waiting lists for NHS dentistry in Cornwall. The city of Portsmouth has no dental practices accepting new NHS patients.
Tom Riall, Mydentist chief executive, said: ‘Despite the heroic hard work of dentists, millions of patients are struggling to access the care they need.
‘There is a growing workforce shortage, NHS dentists are facing increasing pressures, and many are considering leaving the profession altogether.
‘We need action now to support NHS dentists and to fix the dental workforce crisis once and for all.
‘Without this, the problem will only get worse. More patients will be left in unnecessary pain and discomfort, dental decay will go untreated, and vital oral cancer diagnoses will be missed.’
Neil Carmichael, chair of the ADG welcomed the report’s findings. He added: ‘The Great British Oral Health report shows widening inequalities between the north and south of England. Constituents in “red wall” constituencies are crying out for better access to NHS dentistry.
‘The solution is simple – we need more dentists. We are calling on the government to launch an army style recruitment campaign to attract more people into the profession from both home and abroad otherwise we are going to see more “dental deserts” in many parts of the country.’
The report also revealed statistics regarding the state of oral health in the UK. Around 38% of respondents are unhappy with the appearance of their teeth – with one in 10 saying they are ‘very unhappy’.