Almost half of the population of Wales not visiting an NHS dentist
New research from the Welsh Government showed that 54.7% of the population (1.7 million patients) received dental treatment from the NHS in the 24 months to the 31 March 2014.
Over a third of children weren’t treated by the NHS, with 64.6% of under-18s having had dental treatment in the same time period.
A Welsh Government spokesman said: ‘These figures do not take into account people who are seen by the community dental service or who choose to pay for private treatment.
‘We know from the Welsh Health Survey that more than 70% of people reported seeing a dentists in the last 12 months.
‘There are some 33,000 more patients accessing NHS general dental services than there were three years ago.
‘We are continuing to take action to make sure everyone in Wales, no matter where they live, has access to NHS dental care when they need it.
‘In 2013-14, there were 2.4 million individual courses of NHS dental treatment provided to 1.7 million patients – this is evidence of the large number of people accessing treatment across Wales.
‘We know that increased access to NHS dentistry is contributing to improvement in people’s oral health in Wales, especially for children – the latest surveys of five and 12-year-old children show a significant reduction in the level of decay.’
The research also showed that there is 1,438 dentists working for the NHS in 2013-14 – an increase of 3.3% compared with 2012-13.
That equates to 4.7 dentists per 10,000 population.
Plaid Cymru assembly member, Lindsay Whittle, said: ‘The increase in the number of NHS dentists is a success story of Plaid Cymru’s One Wales coalition government.
‘During the One Wales government, Plaid Cymru managed to increase the number of dentists carrying out NHS work by more than 200, and we are pleased to see this trend continue.
‘The Welsh Government needs to continue to increase the number of dentists carrying out NHS work in order to ensure that NHS dentists are available in all parts of Wales, particularly in deprived areas.
‘Everyone in Wales should be able to access an NHS dentist, regardless of where they live.’