The number of patients visiting an NHS dentist in England has fallen for the first time since 2013.
The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) found that 55.7% of the population in England were seen by an NHS dentist in the 24 month period to 20 June 2015, a drop of 60,000 patients to 30.0 million.
‘What this report overwhelmingly indicates is that more needs to be done to improve awareness of the importance of maintaining regular dental appointments to improve dental health,’ said Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation.
‘Many people have their personal reasons to not visit a dentist but these findings highlight a worrying trend, NHS dentistry has been treading water for a few years now, in terms of public take up, and this recent fall cannot be allowed to turn into a continuing thing, the British public must do more to support their NHS.
‘The NHS is an amazing organisation that the British public are very lucky to have; although this report shows dental professionals are doing excellent work at preventing dental disease the public now need to do their bit to ensure good dental health nationally.
‘Our foundation is calling on the public to look after their teeth and visit their dentists regularly to ensure any problems are caught early enough, allowing for their dental care team to give them the best treatment possible.
‘We are especially looking to change attitudes and behaviour towards children’s dental health, where shockingly almost one in 10 NHS treatments includes tooth extraction.
‘A very serious and highly traumatic experience for them no doubt, and totally preventable with good dental care and a good home oral health regime.’
The report also found that the north of England delivers the most treatment with 32% share of the total.
Adults eligible for free NHS treatment made up more than half of the most serious treatments (band three treatment), despite only accounting for a relatively small number of courses of treatment.
‘This report should be seen as a catalyst from which public attitudes and behaviours are influenced,’ continued Dr Carter.
‘The wealth of knowledge that is available to everyone on their own personal dental health is greater than ever, and in my experience patients are more aware of not only how to maintain their dental health but the long term benefits in doing so.
‘Maintaining a healthy mouth is a not a difficult thing to do, the foundation promotes three vital measures that everyone can take to help improve the nations dental health; brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time every day with fluoride toothpaste, cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks, visit a dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.’