Dental appointment attendance falls in Somerset
New figures show that 20% of children in Somerset haven’t been to the dentist in the last year.
The statistics also suggest that 2 in 5 adults in the county haven’t seen a dentist in the last 2 years.
Some patients have reported issues with getting appointments at a local NHS dental practice, but experts are also worried that patients are avoiding the dentist. Dental professionals recommend having a routine check-up every 6 months for children and every 6-12 months for adults.
NHS England has stated that there is a national shortage of places, which is impacting waiting times, but stressed that work is being done to target the worst affected areas. Details of practices that are offering places for children and adults can be found on the NHS Choices website.
Despite a fall in attendance rates, there have been improvements in standards of oral health among Somerset’s children. The proportion of children with missing, decayed or filled teeth has fallen from 23% in 2011/2012 to 19% in 2016/2017.
Emily Hutt, from the public health team at the council, suggested that demand for NHS places was currently outstripping supply, and this was making it difficult for patients to get an appointment. Although the NHS is increasing the number of places, every time a new practice opens or a surgery expands its list, the places are filled, and people are left waiting.