Nottinghamshire facing a ‘dental timebomb’ as lack of NHS dentists sees more people missing check-ups

And the cost of living crisis and a shortage of NHS dentists is to blame, according to a new survey by Dental Phobia as patients put off going to dentist as the fear of the bill they get at the end is greater than the fear of the needle.

A new interactive map shows Nottinghamshire has 329 NHS dentists serving a population of 823,126 – or one NHS dentist for 2,501 residents.

The lack of NHS dentists and the cost of living fears mean more and more people are putting off going to the dentist

This leaves just one practice in the whole of Hucknall serving NHS patients, while the news is only slightly better in Bulwell where there are three.

According to the NHS Dentist Finder Tool on the NHS website, Mansfield currently has eight NHS dental practices, plus one in Mansfield Woodhouse.

Kirkby has three practices serving NHS patients, while Sutton has two. There are five in Retford and six in Worksop, as well as three in Eastwood, while Kimberley has two.

Nottingham is best served for NHS dentists in the county with 76.

Dentist Rhona Eskander says Nottinghamshire is facing a ‘dental timebomb’

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The survey also found the average gap between children having dental appointments in the county has gone over a year for the first time and now stands at 15 months.

Men wait an average of five years between check-ups, while 45 per cent do not go at all, unless they have a problem.

Women wait an average of three years between check-ups, with 35 per cent only going if they have an issue.

Dentist Rhona Eskander said: “Nottinghamshire is facing a dental timebomb if patients don’t get back into the habit of seeking regular check-ups.

“What is most worrying is the cost of living crisis is forcing some parents to cut corners with their children’s teeth.

“Regular dental appointments are easy to put off and lots of people in Nottinghamshire got out of the habit of going to the dentist during Covid and have not returned.

“Patients end up losing their teeth because small cavities which could be fixed inexpensively when they first develop grow quickly without treatment.”

“And more serious conditions such as the early signs of oral cancer – particularly important for patients who smoke and drink regularly – are often first spotted by dentists.

“One of the most common signs of head and neck cancer is an ulcer which develops in the mouth and does not heal within 14 days.

“Caught early, survival rates are good but they drop rapidly.”

Dental Phobia has a free guide to overcoming dental fear and has a national database of specially trained dental phobia certified professionals so patients can find an expert where they live.

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