Only three per cent of dental students want to work solely for the NHS when they graduate, according to the results of a new survey.
The University of Dundee study also revealed that 18 per cent of final-year students plan to work solely in the private sector.
The revelations have sparked fears of longer waiting lists and more people struggling to find access to an NHS dentist.
The research, published in the British Dental Journal, says most dental students – 79 per cent – will split their career between the NHS and private sectors.
Study leader Dr Fiona Stewart said: ‘If these career intentions are followed through it could impact significantly on the future clinical commitment available to the NHS, and in our view these intentions should be taken into account for future dental workforce planning.’
Of the 141 students questioned at the universities of Dundee and Manchester, 60 per cent said they hope to retire or reduce their workload before the age of 60 and more than half want time out to start families.
A similar survey of dental students two years ago found that 7.5 per cent would only stick to private work.