Recent reports have found patients in Cornwall spending 18-36 months on NHS dental practice waiting lists.
Some patients in the area are facing 65-mile round trips to access NHS dental services.
‘Whenever Governments fail to invest in NHS dentistry, we find desperate patients opting for “DIY” alternatives,’ BDA chair of General Dental Practice, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, said.
‘This isn’t the Victorian era.
‘In a country with supposedly universal healthcare these access problems are man-made.
‘They’re borne of failed contracts and cut budgets.
‘Ministers keep treating NHS dentistry as an optional extra.
‘It’s our patients who pay the price.’
Embrace private dentistry
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, told patients who cannot access NHS dentistry to embrace private dental care, the BDA claims.
An affordable private dental scheme has been launched by Mydentist to help cope with a lack of NHS places.
‘Dentistry has always been a mixed market,’ Matt Hancock said to the Bury Free Press.
‘With some people paying and others on the NHS.
‘That system has served Britain well for a long time and any ideas for how to strengthen that are welcome.
‘About a fifth of dentists are companies like Mydentist.
‘They play a really important role in delivering a good service to keep our nation’s teeth strong.’
NHS spending falls
Government spending on NHS dentistry has fallen from £40.95 per person to £36 over the last five years.
Despite this, dental charges rose by around 5% last year.
The Government estimated an increase in revenue coming in through patient charges to £72.4 million per year.
‘Dental charges remain an important contribution to the overall costs of dental services’, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said of the rise.
‘This increase will ensure that there is no shortfall in the costs paid by service users and those met by the NHS through the contributions of taxpayers.
‘We constantly strive for good patient access, and access to dental services continues to increase.
‘From January 2015 to December 2017, 22.1 million adults were seen by a dentist.
‘And almost seven million children were seen by a dentist between 2016 to 2017.’