A total of 143,840 children in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West have not been seen by an NHS dentist for at least a year, shocking new figures published by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.
The research, commissioned from the House of Commons Library, estimates the number of children who weren’t seen by an NHS dentist in the year to June 2023, based on the latest data from the health service.
It also revealed the proportion of children not seen by an NHS dentist in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West. For the previous year, a staggering 41% of children had yet to be seen by an NHS dentist.
This is despite the NHS recommending that under-18s see a dentist at least once a year because their teeth can decay faster, compared to two years for adults. Tooth decay is also the leading cause of hospital admissions for children aged 6-10.
In Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West, 60.7% of adults have not been seen by an NHS dentist in the past two years. That equates to 747,618 people who went without dental care in the last 24 months.
It comes as the Liberal Democrats adopted their pre-manifesto at their autumn conference this year, including a commitment to reform NHS dentistry so that no one is forced to pay hundreds of pounds for private care
The party is also calling for an emergency rescue plan for NHS dentistry, including spending any funding that has gone unspent in recent years to boost the number of appointments as well as the removal of VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Reading Liberal Democrat Councillor Meri O’Connell said:
“Every parent knows how important it is to ensure that their children can see a dentist when they need to. Leaving children in pain can disrupt their eating, sleeping and learning.
“This Conservative government has shown a total disregard for every aspect of our health service and the people of Reading are bearing the brunt of it. Wherever you look, the NHS is crumbling.
“This has to act as a wake-up call for the government. A rescue package for Reading’s dentistry is urgently needed. That means reforming NHS dentistry to boost the number of appointments along with removing VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.”