Which dentist in the UK should you go to for your dentist appointment?
Dentists in the United Kingdom have been targeted with new restrictions that would require all new appointments to be booked in advance.
The change comes after a report by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons last year said that dental practices in the country were facing a crisis in demand.
The group estimated that more than 70,000 people were being forced to delay tooth extraction, and nearly a third of dentists in England had already cut their hours of work in a bid to minimise disruption.
In response, the Department of Health has been cracking down on the practice of dental tourism, imposing restrictions on the number of appointments a dentist can hold, and the number that can be held.
The move has seen dentists from across the UK cut back on visits to patients, as well as restricting access to appointments in the majority of cases.
The move comes after reports that around 70,400 people were going to miss out on an appointment at a dentist, and more than half of those were dentists with more than one practice.
Dentists in London, Birmingham and the south-east have been forced to cut back their hours, as the number they can make appointments with has been cut by a third.
“The restrictions will affect more than 1,000 practices across England, although the majority are in London,” a Dentist in the News spokesperson told BBC News.
There are currently around 300 dentists and dental hygienists in each of the country’s seven counties, and Dentists In The News has spoken to some of the dentists affected by the new rules.
Sue Hall, a dentist in London and a former member of the Royal Commission into Dental Inequalities, told the group that “it was hard enough being on the frontline when the cuts were coming, but it was also hard to cope when the pressure to fill appointments is getting worse”.
“When you’re dealing with people who are desperate for an appointment, you don’t get the sort of support you do when you’re in a crisis,” she added.
Dr Hall added that she was worried that people who work in the dental sector “were in some sort of panic”, and that the restrictions had put a strain on their ability to keep patients happy.
She said that the pressure on dentists had become “extremely hard” and that it was a “real shame” that they had to “go on this terrible road of dentistry”.
“It’s hard to go into a dentist and tell people you’ve had an appointment but you have no idea how long you’re going to have,” she said.
“It’s like you’ve got a bucket of cold water in the shower and you’re trying to get through the cold water without getting your teeth knocked out.”
DENTAL INDEPENDENCE The Royal College for Dental Innovation (RCDI) has called for a national dental equality survey in an attempt to find out what dentists are experiencing.
RCDI’s Dr David Hargreaves told the BBC that while “this is about tooth decay, it’s not about a lack of teeth”.
Dr Hargreson, a former dentist who now runs the Dr David Harkins Institute for Dentistry at St John’s College, University of London, said that he was concerned about the impact of the restrictions on dentistry.
“[The restrictions] mean that a dentist who’s been in business for a long time could have a tooth extracted, and that’s not going to be a situation that’s going to last,” he said.
For more information, visit the RCTI website.