A CHARITY is calling for extra funding in dentistry as services have been drastically delayed in the past year.
The Oral Health Foundation is asking ministers of parliament to address the issue of backed up dental appointments and to provide the NHS with dentistry services to get back on track.
This comes after research conducted by the charity found evidence of the NHS dental service being in crisis.
The research was commissioned by the Oral Health Foundation as part of National Smile Month, a campaign by the charity to promote oral health and a healthy smile.
A survey of over 2000 British adults revealed that 45 per cent reported delays to their dental appointments and treatments in the last year.
Recent figures show that almost 20 million dentist appointments have been delayed or cancelled since March last year.
This delay is more than any other health service including GP surgeries which 30 per cent reported delays to.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, said: “Dentistry has been severely underfunded for many years and services have suffered greatly during the pandemic. To address the backlog caused by COVID-19 restrictions, and to ensure dentistry does not fall behind other crucial health services, now is the time for the government to provide more funding and invest in the nation’s oral health.
“Regular dental visits are key for maintaining good oral health. Dentists can spot oral health problems in the early stages and provide patients with advice and care that can save them from both invasive and expensive treatments later down the line.
“Dentists also conduct potentially lifesaving mouth cancer checks as part of every routine appointment. Many people are unaware when it comes to mouth cancer symptoms and how to look for it and therefore the only mouth cancer check they’d get is when they have their regular appointment.”
Due to the delays in dentist appointments, 12 per cent of people have had to access services remotely in the past 12 months, this includes video calls, telephone advice and emails with their dentists.
Even though remote services have been provided, 74 per cent of people admit that they favour in-person appointments with their dentist.
The Oral Health Foundation are wanting Brits to return to face-to-face appointments as visits are essential for a healthy mouth.
The charity has said that the foundations for good oral health can be done from home.
Dr Carter said: “A healthy smile can be achieved at home with a simple and easy daily routine.
“The most important action you can take is to brush your teeth for two minutes, last thing at night and one other time during the day, with fluoride toothpaste. It also means cleaning between your teeth every day with interdental brushes or floss and also cutting down how much and how often you have sugary foods and drinks.
“Dental disease is largely preventable. Following these steps will set you up on the path for a lifetime of good oral health.”
For further information about the charities National Smile Month campaign and how to achieve better oral health, go to www.smilemonth.org.