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Some kids in parts of England have ‘never’ seen a toothbrush, a dentist has shockingly claimed. 

Dentist Stuart McCance, who visits schools in Norfolk and Waveney to promote good oral hygiene, said that for some six-year-olds he is the first dentist they have ever seen.

‘In some instances, we’re finding it’s the first time kids have seen a dentist – and they’re five or six years of age – when we should be seeing children from six months when their first tooth comes in,’ he told the BBC.

‘Some, more worryingly, have never seen a toothbrush.’

His statement is the latest damning indictment of the state of NHS dentistry, as patients and parents find themselves unable to secure an appointment.

A dentist who visits schools in Norfolk and Waveney said some children have never seen a toothbrush in the latest damming indictment of the nation's oral health

A dentist who visits schools in Norfolk and Waveney said some children have never seen a toothbrush in the latest damming indictment of the nation’s oral health 

Dentist Stuart McCance added that some children had 'never' even seen a toothbrush

Dentist Stuart McCance added that some children had ‘never’ even seen a toothbrush

The East of England, where Mr McCance performs his visits, is one of worst areas hit by the national dental crisis.

Less than half (45.3 per cent) of children have seen a dentist there within the past year, according to the latest NHS data.  

And no dental practice in Norfolk and Waveney area is reported to be accepting children as new NHS patients.

This leaves their parents no option but to either pay expensive fees to see a dentist privately or omit going entirely. 

Mr McCance visits schools as part of the Happy Smiles Club, an initiative run by John G Plummer dentists in Norwich.

Five schools have been involved since March last year with the club seeing dentists and dental nurses visit pupils to educate them on oral health, and also give check-ups if needed. 

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They said at one unnamed school they found half just over half of the 169 children they saw (88) needed urgent dental treatment.

Meanwhile, they also found 82 of the kids were not registered with any dentist.

Dental nurse Chloe Blake, who also volunteers with the Happy Smiles Club, said at the surgery where she worked, they were constantly being asked if they could accept new patients.

‘We did go through a stage when we were taking on patients – just children – but we just got inundated,’ she said. 

The latest figures from the LG inform — a database ran by the Local Government Association (LGA), recorded that nationally, there was only one NHS dental practice for every 4,975 people at the start of 2023. 

North Norfolk actually outperforms the national average, with one NHS dental practice per 4,695 people. 

But in South Norfolk and East Suffolk, the are where Waveney is located, the ratio rises to one NHS dental practice for 6,803 and 7,246 people, respectively. 

Some areas of the country are even worse, with only one NHS dental practice per 13,000 people.

And national NHS data found the East of England was the second lowest performer for children being seen by an NHS dentist in the last 12 months, only beating London which only had 40.6 per cent of kids see a dentist in the year to June 2022. 

All kids in England are entitled to free NHS dentistry, but a lack of dentists taking on new health service patients means many parents can’t take advantage of this.

Earlier this month industry figures bemoaned the state of NHS dentistry, with roughly 11million people in England failing to get an NHS dentist appointment last year.

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The rise of so-called ‘dental deserts’ where Brits increasingly struggle to access affordable dental treatment has been blamed for rise of ‘DIY dentistry’. 

This has seen desperate Brits have had to resort to using shoelaces and pliers to pull out their own rotting teeth or fashion homemade dentures out of resin and superglue. 

While the Covid pandemic made the crisis worse, NHS dental services have been in trouble for years.

Recent industry polls suggest even more dentists are considering going fully private in the near future.

London recorded the lowest rate of children having seen a NHS dentist in England of 40.6 per cent. The rate was highest in the North West with nearly half of children (49.8 per cent) having seen a dentist at least once in 12 months

London recorded the lowest rate of children having seen a NHS dentist in England of 40.6 per cent. The rate was highest in the North West with nearly half of children (49.8 per cent) having seen a dentist at least once in 12 months

The country's worst area to receive NHS dental treatment is Kent, with just 407 dentists covering a population of almost 1.6 million - or one to every 3,904 people. While Hampshire, where the dental crisis has been raging for several years, is rated as the second-worst offender, with only one NHS dentist to every 3,773 people in its 1.85 million population

The country’s worst area to receive NHS dental treatment is Kent, with just 407 dentists covering a population of almost 1.6 million – or one to every 3,904 people. While Hampshire, where the dental crisis has been raging for several years, is rated as the second-worst offender, with only one NHS dentist to every 3,773 people in its 1.85 million population

How much does NHS dentistry cost?

There are 3 NHS charge bands:

Band 1: £23.80

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

Band 2: £65.20

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

Band 3: £282.80

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

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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.

Groups like the British Dental Association argue that under the current NHS contract, it is no longer financially viable to offer NHS procedures because of a lack of Government investment.   

The NHS dental contract system is now being investigated by the Health and Social Care Committee.

One of the Brits forced to take matters into their own hands was Antony Watson, of Bridlington in Yorkshire.

Mr Watson originally broke his tooth 20 years ago with dentists giving him a crown at the time.

But he damaged it a second time after biting into a cookie.

He said he couldn’t book an NHS appointment because he isn’t registered with any clinic and ‘definitely couldn’t afford’ to pay for private treatment ‘on the spot’, forcing him to look elsewhere for a solution.

Mr Watson searched online for home delivery dentistry kits and chose the £3.99 kit because of its next day delivery perk.

The kit contained a 20g bag of plastic beads, which then melted using boiling water and fashioned to fit the shape of your damaged teeth.

Meanwhile, Alex Gray, from Lincolnshire, was also forced to pull out six of his teeth on his own, after failing to find an NHS dentist.

The retired roofer has been unable to find an NHS dentist after moving to Lincolnshire six years ago. 

When a tooth ‘starts to fall out’, he takes painkillers he said, and ‘waits until it goes numb’, before using just pliers to try and extract it.

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