The Health and Social Care Committee, a group of UK parliamentarians, has described the pain and distress experienced by patients through lack of access to dentistry as “totally unacceptable in the 21st century”.
The NHS is supposed to offer dentistry, but the commission said 90% of clinics are not accepting new adult patients, citing research from the BBC and the British Dental Association last year.
The investigation began in December after media reports of people doing their own dentistry. One in 10 Britons said they’ve tried to have their dental surgery done, according to a YouGov poll in March.
Steve Brain, chair of the committee, said the situation illustrated the crisis in NHS dental services.
Cost-of-living pressures have made it difficult for patients to find oral healthcare. The YouGov survey said that of one in five people not currently registered with a dentist, 23% stated they could not afford treatment.
In May 2022 a BDA survey of dentists found that 75% were likely to do less work than on the NHS in the following year, as private dentistry typically offers higher wages and more time with single patients. “Contract repair alone is unlikely to bring back dentists who have already left the NHS or are considering leaving in the near future,” warned Saline.
Activist groups such as Toothless in England protested outside Parliament throughout the investigation.
Brin said “We support the government’s ambition to ensure that everyone who needs an NHS dentist can access it. So late, now is the time to hand it over.” DM