Less than half of children saw a dentist last year, new data shows

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Less than half of children in England saw a dentist in 2022, according to data commissioned by the Liberal Democrats.

Statistics show that only 44% of children attended a dental appointment last year despite the NHS recommending 6-monthly check-ups for children.
Commons Library research also revealed that only a third of adults have seen a dentist in England in the last 24 months.

Restricted access to NHS dental services is one of the most common reasons why attendance rates have fallen. The ratio of patients to dentists has risen in 65 of the 104 local authority areas in England since 2019. The lowest number of dentists to people was recorded in North Lincolnshire, where there are 3,199 patients to every dentist. The national average for England was 2,330 patients to every dentist.

In some parts of the country, there has been a steep increase in the number of patients to dentists. In Bolton, for example, the number of people has increased by 35% since 2019 giving a ratio of 1 dentist to every 2,044 patients. There have also been sharp rises in Ipswich, West Suffolk and Barnsley.

Research commissioned by the Liberal Democrat Party last year suggested that many people who can’t get a dental appointment are resorting to DIY dentistry. A poll carried out in August 2022 showed that over 20% of adults had either attempted DIY treatment or sought advice from somebody who didn’t have dental training. A further 26% of patients delayed getting help even though they were in pain and 25% paid to see a private dentist.

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