One in five people in Doncaster have never tried to book themselves an appointment with an NHS dentist, according to new figures.
The British Dental Association (BDA) said more people are choosing to pay for private dental care because of a lack of finances in the NHS and restrictions on the services they can offer.
Of the 4,756 people in the Doncaster CCG who responded to this year’s GP Patient Survey, which was carried out, between January and March, 20 per cent said that they had never tried to book an appointment with an NHS dentist.
The latest statistics indicate that fewer people are looking to the NHS for their tooth care as five years ago, 16 per cent of respondents said they had never tried to book an appointment with an NHS dentist.
The chairman of the BDA, Mick Armstrong, said that there are several reasons why people may not be choosing to use their NHS dentist.
He said: "Socio-economic factors will play a part. The more affluent may choose to see a dentist privately because it may be quicker to see a dentist and because of the perception of ‘bespoke’ care, because of the wider choice of dental materials available, and access to services which are not available on the NHS.
"In other instances, they may choose this route because of restrictions placed on NHS services, for example orthodontics, or treatments rarely available such as implantology."
The survey also showed that 11 per cent of patients in the Doncaster CCG had not tried to book to see their NHS dentist in the last two years, despite the fact that the NHS recommends that everyone see a dentist at least every two years.
The BDA said that the NHS budget is only sufficient to cover tooth care for half of the English population, which is fuelling growing access problems. Despite this, 94 per cent of patients in the Doncaster CCG who did try to book an appointment were successful.
Patient satisfaction rates for NHS dentists in the area were also positive overall, with 89 per cent of respondents rating their dentist as either very good or fairly good.