In some rural areas such as Powys this figure is as high as 20%.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have described NHS dental services in Wales as “being on life support” and the British Dental Association warned earlier this week that NHS dentistry in Wales could disappear altogether over the space of months.
The BDA has also warned dentists will leave the profession if the Welsh Labour Government does not improve its plans for the future of NHS dentistry.
Out of a recent survey of 250 high street dentists in Wales, conducted by the BDA, more than a third said they would reduce their NHS contract this year, while 13% said they would hand back their contract entirely by March 2023.
A poll commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has previously shown a staggering 1 in 5 people who had been unable to get an NHS dentist appointment had resorted to ‘DIY dentistry’. In Cardiff and the Vale alone, 15,500 people are waiting to be allocated a dentist.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on Labour to raise the spend on NHS dentistry per head to similar levels to Scotland and Northern Ireland. They also want to see more dental therapists and nurses trained and to widen the type of work they are allowed to do to help ease pressure on dental practices and clear waiting lists.
The party is also calling for Labour to engage more constructively with dentists over contract reform.
Commenting on the direction of travel for NHS dental services in Wales, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:
“NHS dentistry in Wales is on life support and if we aren’t careful we will see it disappear within our lifetimes.
“Labour have allowed a two-tier system to develop where those with the money to do so can go private and everyone else is left languishing on a waiting list, often in pain and for months on end.
“We must see dentistry spend rise in Wales to similar levels of that in Northern Ireland and Scotland. We also need to see more dental therapists and nurses trained and to widen the type of work they are allowed to do to help ease pressure on dental practices and clear waiting lists.
“We cannot continue in this direction of travel and Welsh Labour cannot continue to be asleep at the wheel. They must engage constructively with the concerns of dentists over contract reform.”
In a recent Senedd Committee, it was heard that the waiting list for an NHS dentist in Cardiff and the Vale is 15,500 people long.
FOIs by the Welsh Liberal Democrats revealed 800 children in Powys are waiting for an NHS dentist and 7,443 children in Cardiff and the Vale are awaiting a dentist allocation (NHS and private).