Close to 15,000 children in B&NES have not been seen by an NHS dentist for at least a year, shocking new figures published by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

The research, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats from the House of Commons Library, estimates the number of children who were not seen by an NHS dentist in the year to June 2022.

The analysis also shows the number of children not being seen by an NHS dentist for a year has increased by nearly 90% since 2018 in B&NES. The percentage of children seen by an NHS dentist has also fallen over that time period, down from 78% to 60%.

For adults, the numbers are also very troubling. The proportion of adults seen within two years in B&NES has fallen from 52% to just 34%. That means the number of adults not seen by a dentist within a two-year period now stands at over 105,883. That figure is up 44% on 2018’s number of 73,410.

The NHS recommends that under-18s see a dentist at least once a year because their teeth can decay faster, compared to two years for adults.

Shockingly, tooth decay is still the most common reason for hospital admission for young children. Last year, a staggering 30,000 children and young people aged between 0-19 were admitted to hospital because of tooth decay. Dental surgery is far more expensive than simple regular check-ups.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for an emergency rescue plan for NHS dentistry including spending the estimated £400 million of funding that went unspent in the last financial year to boost the number of appointments. The party is also calling for additional resources for mobile dental clinics to visit schools and the removal of VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, commented:

“It is disgraceful that millions of children are going without the dental care they need, while others are waiting years in pain for treatment. 

“These figures must act as a wake-up call. We need a rescue plan now to ensure my constituents in Bath and families across the country can get an NHS dentist appointment when they need one.

“We know that regular dentist appointments are crucial to prevent tooth decay among children.  

“For far too many parents, getting an NHS dentist appointment for your child has become almost impossible. It just shows this Conservative Government has run our local health services into the ground."