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Bury faces ‘dental time bomb’ amid cost of living crisis and NHS shortages

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Bury faces ‘tooth ticking time bomb’ (Image: Dental phobia)

Bury is facing a ‘dental time bomb’ with patients delaying checkups by five years and 40 per cent not returning at all.

A new survey suggests the cost of living crisis and a shortage of NHS dentists are to blame.

Greater Manchester has 762 NHS dentists serving a population of 2,822,000, or one NHS dentist for every 3,560 people.

Of those 762, Bury has just 11 NHS dentists in the whole borough, according to the NHS Dentistry Finder.

The average gap between children having dental appointments in Bury has exceeded over a year for the first time and now stands at 15 months.

Men wait an average of five years between checkups and 45% don’t go to the dentist at all unless they have a problem.

Women wait an average of three years between check-ups and 35% only go there if there is a problem.

Research compiled by Dental Phobia, a website set up to help people with fear of the dentist, found in a survey of 5,000 patients that patients in Greater Manchester are delaying their check-up visits for up to five years – and many don’t go there at all.

They say the gap between patients going for exams has widened since Covid, with many falling out of the habit during the pandemic.

However, many patients in the region do not return to the dentist for fear of the cost.

Two-thirds of patients (67%) say their biggest worry before an appointment is the bill they receive at the end of the appointment.

This compares to 53% of patients who dread going to the dentist largely due to pain and needles used for anesthetics before treatment.

Just under half of patients (46%) said a shortage of NHS dentists deterred them from seeking treatment because they feared a private dentist would be too expensive.

Dentist Rhona Eskander, a world leader in dental care, said: “Bury faces a dental ticking time bomb if patients don’t get back into the habit of regular check-ups.

“The most worrying thing is that the cost of living crisis is forcing some parents to cut back on their children’s teeth.

“Regular dental appointments are easy to reschedule and many people in Greater Manchester have fallen out of the habit of going to the dentist during Covid and have not returned.

“Patients end up losing their teeth because small cavities that could be repaired inexpensively at first grow quickly without treatment.

“And more serious conditions such as early signs of oral cancer – particularly important for patients who smoke and drink regularly – are often spotted first by dentists.

“One of the most common signs of head and neck cancer is an ulcer that develops in the mouth and does not heal within 14 days. Caught early, survival rates are good, but drop off quickly.

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