Shrewsbury facing ‘dental timebomb’ with patients delaying check-ups by up to five years

Shrewsbury facing ‘dental timebomb’ expert says

Dental Phobia, an online resource which gives advice and support to people who fear going to the dentist, conducted a survey among 5,000 people nationally – with 100 in Shropshire.

Panels were set up in the county to find out where patients were most likely to skip dental check-ups and some of the reasons why.

An interactive map shows Shropshire has 145 NHS dentists serving a population of 319,189 – or one NHS dentist for 2,201 residents.

The gap between dental check-ups had risen by 20 per cent in Shropshire over the last five years, the research revealed. 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 and 45 per cent don’t go to the dentist at all unless they have a problem, the survey revealed.

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

According to Dental Phobia, the cost of living crisis is a key factor in patients putting off going to dentist, with people neglecting their teeth because they cannot find cost-effective treatment.

Their findings revealed two-thirds of patients – 67 per cent – said their biggest worry prior to an appointment is the bill they get at the end of it.

This compares to the 53 per cent of patients who fear going to the dentist largely because of the pain and the needles used for anaesthetics prior to treatment.

Just under half of patients – 46 per cent – said a shortage of NHS dentists had put them off seeking treatment because they are worried a private dentist would be too expensive.

Shrewsbury is the best served for NHS dentists with a total of 20, Telford has 17 NHS dentists, Oswestry has five, Market Drayton has four, Bridgnorth has three and Ludlow has two, according to the NHS dentist finder.

London-based dentist Rhona Eskander said: “Shrewsbury is facing a dental timebomb if patients don’t get back into the habit of seeking regular check-ups.”

“What is most worrying is that 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 Shropshire 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.”

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