Shawn Charlwood, from the British Dental Association (BDA), said NHS dentistry is ‘hanging by a thread’ with some patients facing two-year waits for routine check-ups.
He said, “It’s a really serious situation and every dentist that is lost or every vacancy for NHS dentistry that remains unfilled affects thousands of patients in terms of care and their ability to access care.”
Data for East Sussex shows between 2020–2021 23 NHS dentists were lost, that’s a seven per cent drop in a year. Looking over a period of five years, there has been an 11 per cent drop in the number of NHS dentists.
The BDA said unhappiness with the NHS dental contract was a key factor.
NHS England said patients who needed care the most should be prioritised, and added it had set up 600 urgent dental centres across England.
The worst-affected clinical commissioning group (CCGs) area was Portsmouth, which lost 26 per cent of its NHS dentists over 12 months.
Some 28 other English CCGs have lost at least 10 per cent of their NHS dentists.