Action call over missed dental treatment

Fewer than half of adults in South Tyneside attended dental appointments because of the coronavirus pandemic, new figures suggest.

Huge drop in dentist visits
Huge drop in dentist visits

NHS England data shows that, in the two years to December 2021, 57,351 adults in South Tyneside visited a dentist – 47% of the population – and significantly down on the previous 24 months when 77,161 (64%) attended.

Between March and June 2020, dental practices were instructed to close and defer routine, non-urgent dental care to limit the spread of Covid-19.

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Data relating to children is recorded on an annual basis and shows that the volume of dentist visits, which declined significantly during the pandemic, showed signs of improvement last year.

The figures show 13,209 (44%) of youngsters in South Tyneside saw their dentist last year, compared to 29% in 2020 and 64% in 2019.

The British Dental Association say the figures are proof that NHS dentistry is at the "last chance saloon" and in urgent need of reform.

It says 40 million fewer courses of treatment were delivered between April 2020 and December 2021.

BDA chairman Eddie Crouch said every missed appointment translates to bottled up problems which could see patients left requiring more extensive and costly interventions.

He said: "For the sake of our patients real, urgent reform cannot remain stuck on the Government's 'too difficult' list."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: "Levels of dental treatment are increasing and urgent care is back to pre-pandemic levels thanks to the hard work of staff."