Reading mum told next available NHS dentist appointment is in three years

Melanie Vicary has been offered a dental appointment in March 2027 Credit: ITV Meridian

A mum-of-two from Tilehurst, who hasn't seen a dentist for five years, has been told the next available appointment with an NHS dentist is in March 2027.

Melanie Vicary was de-registered by her local dental practice during the COVID-19 pandemic when she didn't attend over pregnancy concerns.

"Unfortunately that meant I was struck off the list because I didn't attend my routine appointment."

When she heard they were taking on new NHS patients again she tried to re-register.

"They said, 'yeah no problem, but the next appointment is in three years time'."

"I put in all my details and they gave me an appointment in March 2027."

Melanie Vicary said she feels sorry for people struggling with their dental health Credit: ITV Meridian

A spokesperson for mydentist said, “Our practice teams are doing everything possible to take on new NHS dental patients as part of the Dental Recovery Plan."

"But despite this, an acute shortage of NHS dentists and overwhelming patient demand across the country has resulted in some dental practices operating with severely limited NHS capacity."

"We are working hard to continue recruiting new clinicians so that we can expand NHS capacity across all of our practices and to help more patients get access to the care they need.”

Shawn Charlwood, Chair of the British Dental Association's General Dental Practice Committee, said, "there is an NHS dentistry crisis."

Shawn Charlwood says one in four adults in England is unable to access NHS dental care Credit: British Dental Association

"We estimate over 12-million people are unable to access NHS dental care that would like to access it, said Mr Charlwood, "That equates to about one in four adults in England."

"That's three times the level that we saw before the pandemic."

It will be eight years since Melanie Vicary has seen a dentist by the time her next appointment comes around.

"I'm fortunate that I don't really struggle with the health of my teeth so I'm not panicking in that respect, but it just feels like I'm not able to set an example for my children, that we go and look after our teeth regularly."

Melanie Vicary is trying to teach her children good habits when it comes to dental hygiene Credit: ITV Meridian

"It makes me sad for people that are struggling, that need those appointments and can't afford the private fees," said Melanie.

"It's just a bit shocking really that we're left in this position."

Shawn Charlwood, said it's led to some people taking their dental health into their own hands.

"We're seeing patients carrying out what we call DIY dentistry. Taking their own teeth out, filling their own teeth and clearly that is not something that we want to see."

"The vast majority of dentists are struggling to work within the NHS dental system because if they have practices they're struggling to recruit NHS dentists and they're struggling to retain NHS dentists and clearly without NHS dentists practices can't deliver NHS dentistry."

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