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Time for a check up? Half of Welsh adults haven't been to the dentist in two years

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: June 02, 2014

By Ruth Dawson / ruth.dawson@swwmedia.co.uk / @Ruth_Dawson

Only 52 per cent of adults in Wales had visited the dentist in the two years before December 31, 2013.

Only 52 per cent of adults in Wales had visited the dentist in the two years before December 31, 2013.

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48 per cent of Welsh adults have not been for a dental appointment in the last two years, according to new statistics from the Welsh Government.

The news has prompted outcry from opposition parties, who say that there should be increased access to NHS dentists. The government, however, has said that there have in fact been improvements in recent years: in 2013, 34,000 more people visited a dentist than at the end of 2012.

There are now 1,392 dentists working for the NHS in Wales – more than 200 extra than in 2006/07. And, for the first time, each Welsh health board has a Local Oral Health Plan to measure the effectiveness of dental services in the area.

However, there are fears that new dentists who are trained or qualify in Wales are not able to stay in the country to work. Speaking to the BBC, Bryan Webber, a member of staff who trains dentists at Cardiff University, said that, despite there being plenty of qualified dentists in Wales, there are not enough places for new dentists to practice.

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"In the old days you could graduate and go and set up anywhere but now you have to go where there's a contract," Mr Webber said.

"And if the local health board doesn't have a contract available then the dentists can't work there.

"They could go into a private practice but that's not always available everywhere, especially in Wales.

"We don't have a huge pot of money and so we have to manage the resources we have got effectively."

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