New figures from Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show that just over 29.9 million adult and child patients in England saw an NHS dentist in the 24 months to June 2014.
This is 1.8 million (6.3%) more than in the 24 months to March 2006, when this reporting series began, and equates to 55.9% of the population being seen in the 24 months to June 2014 (compared to 55.6% in the 24 months to March 2006).
However, while the total number and percentage of adults seen by June 2014 is higher than in 2006, the percentage of the child population seen has fallen by almost one percentage point.
HSCIC chair, Kingsley Manning, said: 'Today's report shows one impact of a growing population on NHS dentistry.
'While more and more people are taking a turn in the dentist's chair, the proportion of the population seen is increasing slightly for adults but dipping slightly for children compared to eight years ago.
'Both the national and regional picture will be of interest to the public, but also provides a basis for further exploration for health professionals.
'The report also highlights dental workforce statistics, which show an 18% rise in the number of dentists performing NHS activity since 2006/07, will help to build a fuller picture of the state of NHS dentistry in England.'
NHS Dental Statistics for England: 2013/14, which provides information about patients seen by dentists and NHS dental activity in England, shows that in the 24 months to June 2014:
- 22.0 million adults had been seen – or 52.3% of the adult population – compared to 20.3 million at March 2006 or 51.5% of the adult population
- 7.9 million children had been seen – or 69.2% of the child population – compared to 7.8 million at March 2006 or 70.2% of the child population.
Considering the four NHS regions in England in the 24 months to June 2014:
- The total number of adults seen rose in all regions compared to the 24 months to March 2006, but only two – the north and the south – saw a rise in the percentage of the population seen (with falls in London, the midlands and east regions)
- The biggest percentage of the adult population seen was in the north at 57.6% (6.9 million seen in total) – a rise of 1.1 percentage points (420,000) on 2006. The lowest was in London at 46.6% (3.0 million seen in total) – a fall of 1.8 percentage points on 2006
- The total number of children seen rose in two regions – the north and London – compared to the 24 months to March 2006, but only the north saw a rise in the percentage of the population seen of 3.1 percentage points (73,000)
- The north also accounted for the biggest percentage of the child population seen at 74.0% (2.4 million children seen in total). The lowest was in London at 63% (1.2 million seen in total) – a fall of 0.8 percentage points on 2006.