25 August 2015

The number of people who have visited an NHS dentist in England has fallen for the first time since 2013 according to new NHS statistic from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The extensive annual report into NHS dental care in England found that a total of 30 million patients, 55.7 per cent of the total population, were seen in the 24 month period to 30 June 2015; a substantial 60,000 decrease on the previous quarter.

The British Dental Health Foundation hopes that these results will create a new impetus for government, the British public and the dental profession to improve dental care access nationwide.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation commented; "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.

"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 which 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 ten 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 showed the North of England continues to deliver the most courses of treatments (CoT) nationally with 12.8 million, a 32 per cent share of the total.

Also adults who were eligible for free NHS treatments, although only being a small number of all CoT's, accounted for more than half of all the most serious treatments, those which fall within band three.

This report covers dental activity carried out by ‘high street dentists' under NHS contract and does not take into account private treatments.

"This report should be seen as a catalyst from which public attitudes and behaviours are influenced," continued Dr Carter.

"The wealth of knowledge which 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 which 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."