Fewer patients seen by dentists in North Yorkshire within recommended period in lockdown

The number of patients up to date with their dentist check-ups in North Yorkshire has dropped during the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

Thursday, 10th September 2020, 2:45 pm
The British Dental Association said patient access across England has “fallen off a cliff” since March. Photo: PA Images

The British Dental Association said patient access across England has “fallen off a cliff” since March, warning tens of millions of patients could lose out on dental care.

Figures from NHS Digital show 147,187 adults were seen by a dentist in NHS North Yorkshire CCG in the two years to the end of June – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s recommended longest interval between check-ups.

This was 3% fewer than had been seen in the two years to the end of March, around the time the vast majority of dentists were forced to close because of the coronavirus lockdown.

Routine dentistry was largely suspended in England between March 25 and June 8, with 600 NHS urgent dental care centres remaining open in their place.

But the British Dental Association warns the latest statistics do not fully show the “unprecedented fall in access” driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It said Freedom of Information requests indicated access to the urgent dental care network was just over 2% of the normal level of activity, and recent surveys suggest the overwhelming majority of practices are still operating at less than a quarter of their former capacity.

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

The BDA said practices face significant barriers to expand capacity, warning tens of millions of patients will lose access to dental services unless current regulations evolve.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Children’s oral health in England is among the best in the world, and in the last year more than seven million children have been seen by a dentist, with more than three quarters having no decayed, missing or filled teeth by the age of five.

“Twenty-one million adults were seen by a dentist in the last two years up to June and we are working closely with NHS England to improve access across the country.”

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