Dental treatments below pre-pandemic levels

Dental services in South Tyneside are still feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to figures.

Dental treatments below pre-pandemic levels.
Dental treatments below pre-pandemic levels.

New NHS Digital data shows the number of treatment courses are still significantly below pre-crisis levels – with 87,262 courses delivered in the South Tyneside area in the year to March.

This was more than double the 38,723 treatments delivered in 2020-21, but still 31% below the pre-pandemic figure of 125,860.

Different figures show that, in the two years to June, 59,453 adults saw an NHS dentist in South Tyneside – 49% of the over-18 population.

The data shows 13,503 children (45%) were seen by NHS dentists between July 2021 and June this year, compared to 83% in 2018-19.

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Nationally, dentists carried out 26.4 million treatments in 2021-22, though the British Dental Association (BDA) said this is just two-thirds of the average volumes delivered annually in the five years prior to the pandemic.

Eddie Crouch, BDA chairman, said: "What we're seeing isn't a recovery, but a service on its last legs.

"NHS dentistry is lightyears away from where it needs to be. Unless ministers step up and deliver much needed reform and decent funding, this will remain the new normal."

The data comes after a BDA found that 91% of NHS practices are not accepting new adult patients.

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An NHS spokesman said: “The data shows dental services are recovering post-pandemic, with over 26 million patient treatments delivered last year – up 120% from the year before.

“We recently announced the first significant changes to dentistry since 2006, helping practices to improve access for the patients that need dental care the most.”