Some children in parts of England have “never” seen a toothbrush, a dentist has surprisingly claimed.
Dentist Stuart McCance, who visits schools in Norfolk and Waveney to promote good oral hygiene, said that for some six-year-olds it is the first dentist they have ever seen.
“In some cases, we find that it’s the first time children see a dentist, and they’re five or six years old, when we should be seeing children as young as six months when their first tooth comes in,” he said. BBC.
“Some, more worryingly, have never seen a toothbrush.”
His statement is the latest damning indictment of the state of NHS dentistry as patients and parents fail to secure an appointment.
A dentist who visits schools in Norfolk and Waveney said some children have never seen a toothbrush in the latest damning indictment of the nation’s oral health (file image)
Dentist Stuart McCance added that some children had “never” seen a toothbrush.
The east of England, where Mr McCance visits, is one of the areas hardest hit by the national dental crisis.
Less than half (45.3 per cent) of children have seen a dentist there in the last year, according to the latest NHS data.
And no dental practices in the Norfolk and Waveney area are reported to be accepting children as new NHS patients.
This leaves their parents no choice but to pay expensive fees to see a dentist in private or skip going altogether.
Mr McCance visits schools as part of the Happy Smiles Club and an initiative run by John G Plummer dentists in Norwich.
Five schools have been involved since March last year with the club, where dentists and dental nurses visit students to educate them on oral health and also give them check-ups if necessary.
They said that in an unnamed school, they found half of the 169 children they saw (88) He needed urgent dental treatment.
Meanwhile, they also found that 82 of the children were not registered with any dentist.
Dental nurse Chloe Blake, who is also a Happy Smiles Club volunteer, said that at the surgery where she worked, they were constantly asked if they could accept new patients.
“We went through a stage where we were accepting patients, just children, but we were inundated,” he said.
The latest figures from LG report: A database run by the Local Government Association (LGA), recorded that, nationally, there is only one NHS dental practice for every 4,975 people as of early 2023.
North Norfolk actually exceeds the national average, with one NHS dental practice for every 4,695 people.
But in South Norfolk and East Suffolk, where Waveney is based, the ratio rises to an NHS dental practice serving 6,803 and 7,246 people respectively.
Some areas of the country are even worse, with only one NHS dental practice for every 13,000 people.
And national NHS data found that the East of England was the second-lowest performing country for children seen by an NHS dentist in the last 12 months, surpassing only London, where just 40.6 per cent of children children saw a dentist in the year ending June 2022.
All children in England are entitled to free dentistry from the NHS, but a lack of dentists accepting new patients from the health service means that many parents cannot take advantage of this.
Earlier this month, industry figures lamented the state of NHS dentistry, with an estimated 11 million people in England unable to get an appointment with an NHS dentist last year.
The rise of so-called “dental deserts” in which Britons increasingly struggle to access affordable dental treatment has been blamed for the rise of “DIY dentistry”.
This has left desperate Brits resorting to using shoelaces and pliers to pull out their own rotten teeth or making homemade dentures out of resin and super glue.
While the Covid pandemic made the crisis worse, NHS dental services have been in trouble for years.
Recent industry surveys suggest that even more dentists are considering going completely private in the near future.
According to data from NHS Digital, London recorded the lowest percentage of adults to have seen an NHS dentist in two years. The North East and Yorkshire had the highest rate at 41.8%
The worst area in the country for NHS dental treatment is Kent, with just 407 dentists covering a population of almost 1.6 million, or one for every 3,904 people. While Hampshire, where the dental crisis has raged for several years, is ranked as the second worst offender, with just one NHS dentist for every 3,773 people in its population of 1.85 million.
How much does NHS dentistry cost?
There are 3 NHS charging bands:
Band 1: £23.80
Covers an exam, diagnosis, and counseling. If necessary, it also includes x-rays, a scale and polish, and planning for further treatment.
Band 2: £65.20
Covers all treatments included in Band 1, plus additional treatments such as fillings, root canals, and tooth extraction (extractions).
Band 3: £282.80
Covers all treatments included in Bands 1 and 2, plus more complex procedures such as crowns, dentures, and bridges.
For comparison, checkups can cost between £20 and £120 at private dentists, according to Which?.
Dentures and bridges can also cost up to £2,520, the consumer watchdog says.
Groups like the British Dental Association argue that under the current NHS contract it is no longer financially viable to offer NHS procedures due to a lack of government investment.
The NHS dental contract system is now under investigation by Health and Social Care Committee.
One of the Britons forced to take matters into their own hands was Antony Watson, from Bridlington in Yorkshire.
Watson originally chipped a tooth 20 years ago when dentists fitted him with a crown at the time.
But he damaged it a second time after biting into a cookie.
He said he could not book an NHS appointment because he is not registered with any clinic and “definitely could not afford to” pay for private treatment “on the spot”, forcing him to look elsewhere for a solution.
Mr Watson searched online for home delivery dentistry kits and chose the £3.99 kit because of its next day delivery benefit.
The kit contained a 20g bag of plastic beads, which were then melted with boiling water and shaped to fit the shape of their damaged teeth.
Meanwhile, Alex Gray, from Lincolnshire, was also forced to pull six of his teeth on his own, after failing to find an NHS dentist.
The retired roofer has been unable to find an NHS dentist after moving to Lincolnshire six years ago.
When a tooth “starts to fall out,” he takes painkillers, he said, and “waits until it’s numb,” before using just a pair of pliers to try to pull it out.