New figures have shown the number of people in Bradford calling 999 and the 111 service with dental problems has increased in the past three years.

A Freedom of Information request to the Yorkshire Ambulance Service shows 126 people called 999 in 2015, with a jump to 159 in 2016 and 160 the following year.

And for 111, that figure stood at 28,316 in 2015, 28,319 in 2016 and 28,989 in 2017.

As well as pushing for greater awareness around oral health, the Telegraph & Argus’s Stop the Rot campaign is also calling for better access to NHS dentistry in Bradford.

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.

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.

And a readers poll found 97 per cent of people believe more NHS dentists are needed.

It’s a problem which Bradford South MP Judith Cummins has raised since she was elected and has recently highlighted the work of the T&A campaign in parliament.

Speaking about the figures, she said: “Of course, sometimes dental emergencies happen due to accidents, but it’s clear that people are relying on a wide variety of NHS services - from ambulances to the 111 line - to help them because they are desperate, as they cannot get to see an NHS dentist.”

One of those people struggling to find an NHS dentist is Judith Lawrence, who moved to Bradford from Felixstowe, Suffolk, around two years ago.

Mrs Lawrence, 58, of Woodside, said: “I have contacted everyone to try to gain dental access to no avail and have been told to wait until it is a major emergency and then ring 111 and they may be able to help.

“I have several broken teeth due to a crumbling problem, 25-year-old caps falling out, receding gums and a long standing gum infection, none of which are doing any good for the several long term, chronic conditions that I already have.”

And she says the problems have got so bad she is in “constant pain” and while she saw the dentist regularly before she moved, the situation is different in Bradford.

“Something needs to be done,” she said. “I’m sure I’m not the only one.”

And as Mrs Lawrence lives on disability benefits, she says private dental care would be impossible to pay for.

Mrs Cummins said the lack of NHS dentists is putting a “huge strain” on hospitals and the figures show dental problems are heaping further pressure onto a health service which is already overstretched.

She said: “What we urgently need is better access to NHS dentistry for people in Bradford. Prevention must also be at the heart of a new dental contract if we want better standards of oral health for our children - and less pressure on our health service.”

Mick Armstrong, chair of the British Dental Association, said: “When families in Bradford need a dentist and log on to NHS Choices or call the NHS 111 service they have literally nowhere to go. These patients end up being passed from pillar to post, simply because health commissioners have failed to provide enough dentistry to go round. NHS websites and hotlines are all well and good, but access can only be guaranteed through real investment in NHS services in West Yorkshire.”

NHS England has said it is “committed” to ensuring all patients who want to access NHS dental services can do so.

Moira Dumma, director of commissioning operations for NHS England in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “We are currently reviewing how we can improve access to NHS dentists across our region and looking at how we can introduce additional capacity from within our existing budget. We are looking at both in-hours and out of hours’ services and at how people can be better signposted to the most appropriate services.

“We will be paying particular attention to areas where we know this is particularly challenging.”