NHS England has a legal duty to commission primary care dental services to meet the needs of the local population. NHS England also has arrangements in place to help patients who cannot find a local dentist that is accepting new patients.
Access nationally remains high. 22.1 million adults saw a National Health Service dentist in the 24 months ending in 31 December 2017 and 6.9 million children in the 12 months ending in 31 December 2017. However, there are areas where there is further to go to ensure that all those who want to access NHS dental care can do so.
New ways of providing primary care dental services are being tested by the Department and NHS England which aims to further improve oral health and increase access to NHS dental services, by preventing as well as treating disease. Alongside this is NHS England’s Starting Well programme, which aims to improve access to dental services for children known to be at greater risk of dental disease and who are not currently being seen by a dentist.