Almost three-fifths of North Yorkshire dental patients not seen in two years, NHS Digital figures show

Almost three-fifths of adults in North Yorkshire have not been to a dentist in the last two years, figures show.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 8:55 am
207,730 people aged 18 and over were seen by a dentist or orthodontist in the two years to the end of December. Photo: PA Images

The British Dental Association (BDA) said access to dental practices has collapsed across England, and warned the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s oral health will be felt “for years to come”.

Figures from NHS Digital show 207,730 people aged 18 and over were seen by a dentist or orthodontist in North Yorkshire in the two years to the end of December – just 41% of the area’s adult population.

This means 59% had not been seen by a dentist within the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s recommended longest interval between check-ups.

This was up from 55% not seen in the two years to December 31 2019. Across England, just 45% of adults were seen in 2019 and 2020.

The BDA is calling on the Government to invest in mechanical ventilation to help increase patient numbers safely, as has been done in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Eddie Crouch, chairman of the organisation, said: “Access has collapsed, public health programmes suspended, and many practices have been pushed to the brink.

“Serious investment in prevention is needed now, alongside real support for the services millions depend on.”

The maximum recommended interval for children is shorter, at just 12 months, and the NHS figures show fewer under-18s are also being seen by dentists than normal.

In this area, 35,741 youngsters were seen in 2020 – down from 66,714 the year before – meaning just 30% of children went to the dentist last year.

The BDA warned the impact of sugar-rich lockdown diets, poor access to care and the suspension of public health programmes – many of which are school-run – will come at a “terrible cost” to the most deprived communities.

Since January 1, the Government has imposed financial targets that will penalise practices if they fail to hit 45% of their pre-pandemic activity targets.

An NHS spokesman said strict infection control rules mean many services have been disrupted, but that these targets are fair to dental teams.

A Department of Health and Social care spokesman said the Government was encouraging the food and drink industry to reduce sugar, and will ban TV adverts before 9pm for certain unhealthy foods.