Figures released by the Welsh Government have shown that almost half the population did not visit the dentist at all over the last two years. Statistics revealed that only 55.7% of the people in Wales were recorded to have visited an NHS dentist in the past twenty-four months, with a total of 1.5million procedures being carried out during this time. Although this is an increase of 1.8% from 2010-2011, a large number of people have not been able to access NHS treatment because of the number of dentists available and concern over price.
Dental hygienist Alison Lowe, based in Cardiff, said that ‘access to dental care is still difficult. People still find that they cannot get an NHS dentist and because of the financial climate people are reluctant to pay for work as well.’ She went on to say that the cost of future dental treatment was also of some concern to the Welsh public, adding ‘Many worry that they won’t be able to afford dental care now and in the future and younger people are now more inclined to seek private treatment. Emergency dental services on weekends are full and people just cannot afford to pay for it.’
Only last month the Welsh Government launched Together for Health, a programme designed to reduce oral health inequalities over the next five years. Health minister Lesley Griffiths said that ‘Oral health is an intrinsic part of general health and prevention is at the core of the draft plan.’