IT has been described as the “Cinderella” service of the NHS.

Time after time, shocking figures have laid bare the state of dental health across the UK.

And in Bradford, that is no different, with people facing a struggle to find an NHS dentist, having to visit A&E because of dental pain and in some cases resorting to DIY dentistry to solve their problems.

A damning survey carried out by Healthwatch Bradford and District in 2016 revealed the scale of the problem.

It found that 74 per cent of people said they had tried, but couldn’t find a local dentist accepting NHS patients. Ten per cent of people who didn’t have routine NHS dental care had to attend A&E because of pain. Meanwhile, 20 per cent of people had to use emergency dental services and other people reported resorting to ‘DIY dentistry’, including extracting their own teeth.

A recent readers poll by the Telegraph & Argus found 97 per cent of people believe more NHS dentists are needed.

And a check of the NHS Choices website shows a number of dental surgeries within five miles of Bradford are not accepting new adult or child patients.

On a national level, the Government has been slammed by the British Dental Association (BDA) for its “indifference”.

The BDA says figures for Bradford show that between 2011/12 and 2015/16, 3,199 children were admitted to hospital for multiple tooth extractions – more than 70 per cent of these were primarily due to severe decay.

Based on NHS data, the BDA says this cost the NHS in Bradford more than £2.5 million since 2011.

It also says latest Public Health England data puts Bradford among the worst 10 per cent of local authorities in England in terms of children’s oral health outcomes.

The body points to latest NHS Digital figures from September 2017 which show 41 per cent of children in Bradford had not seen an NHS dentist in the last year. That’s higher than the Yorkshire and Humber average of 37 per cent.

Figures for the same period show 48 per cent of adults had not seen an NHS dentist in two years, again worse than the Yorkshire and Humber average of 43.5 per cent.

Analysis of official data by the Local Government Association (LGA) shows that 42,911 extractions of multiple teeth in under-18s took place in England in 2016-17, costing the NHS £36.2 million. That’s a 17 per cent increase on the 36,833 procedures in 2012/13. The BDA says these operations have cost the service £165 million since 2012.

Dentist leaders have lambasted the “short-sighted” approach of Ministers in England towards tooth decay, which remains the number one reason for hospital admissions among children.

The BDA has called it a “badge of dishonour” and argue England is now receiving a second-class service.

How can the problem be solved? Inaction is not an option. That is why we are today launching a campaign to put dental health provision in Bradford under the spotlight.

Among those backing the Stop the Rot campaign is Bradford South MP Judith Cummins.

She says “serious money” needs to be invested into NHS dentistry in Bradford.

“I have been campaigning on this since I became an MP and I’ve met with several Ministers and all the time the Ministers have recognised that something needs to be done,” Mrs Cummins said.

“I’ve reiterated that we are now at a point which is a crisis point in terms of oral health and dentistry in Bradford.”

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