Revealed: 80% of NHS dentists have shut their door to new patients, according to shock analysis… so is YOURS one of them?

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • Of 4,969 dental surgeries across the country, 82% are not accepting new adults
  • The figure is even bleaker in some parts of the country, at 99% in the South West 

Eight in 10 dentists in England are not accepting new adult patients, a shocking analysis suggests.

Of the 4,969 dental surgeries across the country who have recently updated their status, 82 per cent are not adding new over-18s to their list.

Another 71 per cent aren’t taking new children, NHS data shows.

But the figures are even bleaker in some parts of the country, with 99 per cent of practices in the South West seemingly rejecting requests from adults seeking NHS dental care.

MailOnline’s handy interactive tool lets you input your postcode to check the status of dentists in your area.

The collapse of NHS dentistry has seen millions miss vital checkups.

Some have resorted to queuing overnight for a place with a practice or resorting to DIY dentistry. 

Labour, which analysed the data, said that it would ramp-up funding to NHS dental practices, providing hundreds of thousands more appointments and incentives for dentists to works in the parts of the country with the greatest need.

The data shows that there are 6,605 dental practices in England.

Of these, 4,969 have provided recent responses to the NHS regarding their patient list status.

Behind the South West, the situation is also dire in North East, where just 97 per cent of practices are open to taking new adult patients, followed by the East Midlands (94 per cent) and East of England (91 per cent).

Meanwhile, it is easiest in London, where six in 10 clinics are accepting, followed by the West Midlands (73 per cent) and the North West (77 per cent). 

Only 43 per cent of over-18s were seen by a dentist in the 24 months to June this year, compared to more than half in the same period before the pandemic struck

Overall, 18.1million adults saw their dentist in the two years to June 2023, up from 16.4million in the 24 months to June 2022. But it is still well below the 21million seen in the two years to June 2020

Overall, 18.1million adults saw their dentist in the two years to June 2023, up from 16.4million in the 24 months to June 2022. But it is still well below the 21million seen in the two years to June 2020

How much does NHS dentistry cost?

There are 3 NHS charge bands:

Band 1: £25.80

Covers an examination, diagnosis and advice. If necessary, it also includes X-rays, a scale and polish, and planning for further treatment.

Band 2: £70.70

Covers all treatment included in Band 1, plus additional treatment, such as fillings, root canal treatment and removing teeth (extractions).

Band 3: £306.80

Covers all treatment included in Bands 1 and 2, plus more complex procedures, such as crowns, dentures and bridges.

For comparison, check-ups can cost between £20 and £120 at private dentists, according to Which?.

Dentures and bridges can also cost up to £2,520, the consumer watchdog says.


Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: ‘The Conservatives have left NHS dentistry to wither on the vine, and now the service is barely worthy of the name. 

‘Patients are told to go without or do it themselves, with DIY dentistry now shockingly common in Tory Britain.

‘The slow death of dentistry is the Ghost of Christmas Future for the NHS, if the Conservatives are given a fifth term: those who can afford it going private and those who can’t left with a poor service for poor people. 

‘Labour has a fully-costed plan to rescue NHS dentistry by gripping the immediate crisis and reforming the service in the long-term.’

NHS dentistry has been in crisis for years, with leaders claiming the sector has been chronically underfunded making it financially unviable to carry out treatments.

Exacerbating the problem is that, as more dentists leave the NHS, those that remain become swamped by more and more patients, resulting in a domino effect.

Patients have told of queuing from 4am outside dental practices to gain a spot at practices which have opened up their list to NHS patients — a phenomenon that experts have warned is becoming the ‘new normal’.

Practices have complained of receiving thousands of calls when they open a handful of slots for new patients. 

Patients say they have been forced to perform DIY dentistry after struggling to access NHS care. 


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