JUST over half of registered patients (52.6 per cent) in Scotland had seen an NHS dentist within the last two years as of 30 September 2021, according to statistics highlighted by the Scottish BDA.
This is a significant reduction on the 2020 figure of 65.1 per cent.
Oral health inequalities between the most and least deprived areas in Scotland have also continued to grow. The gap between child participation rates for the most and least deprived areas was 18 per cent in September 2021 compared to three per cent in 2008, and among adults it was 11 per cent compared to three percent in 2008.
Robert Donald of the British Dental Association's Scottish Council said: "Today's figures provide further evidence of the devastating effect of the pandemic on dental services.
"Plummeting participation rates and the record gap in oral health inequalities present a bleak picture which will take a real commitment of time and resource to fix.
"The Scottish Government needs to heed the concerns of the profession. It's not just their signature policy of free dentistry that risks becoming unattainable. Failure to act risks sparking an exodus from the workforce that will leave families across Scotland losing access to NHS dentistry for good."