A new report has identified Northamptonshire as a “dental desert” as figures revealed fewer than 40 percent of adults have been seen by a dentist in the last two years.
Up to March 2021, only 34.1 percent of adults were seen by a dentist in the previous 24 months.
Only 40.2 percent of children had a dentist appointment in the 12 months up to March 2021.
This places Northamptonshire Clinical Commissioning Group as the sixteenth worst in England out of 106 groups, according to The Association of Dental Groups (ADG), which has led to the county being identified as a “dental desert”.
The group suggests the statistics come as a result of “Brexit, Covid and contract challenges” driving NHS dentistry into a “critical state”
The group also says figures are likely to worsen after more than 2,000 dentists left the NHS in 2021/2022.
The ADG is now calling for six actions to fix the situation. These are:
Increase the number of training places in the UK Continued recognition of EU trained dentists Recognition of overseas qualifications Simplify and speed up the process for dentists to get an NHS “performer number” Allow more dental care professionals (DCPs) to initiate treatments Dental system reform to retain staff in the NHS
A spokesman for ADG said: “Unless urgent action is taken by the Government to improve patient access in Northamptonshire and nationwide, these dental deserts will continue to grow, along with their subsequent health risks.”
Neil Carmichael chair of the ADG added: “Our fears of an exodus from NHS dentistry are proving to be founded and the number of NHS dentists working in England is now at the lowest level for a decade.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to reform of the recruitment and registration of overseas dentists – what needs to follow is NHS dental contract reform and investment in our future domestic workforce.
“Only when this happens will we have a chance of tackling the oral health inequalities of England.”