One in three in Norfolk has no NHS dentist
Health bosses have launched a dental campaign in Norfolk as it emerges one in three people in the county do not have an NHS dentist.
The campaign, by NHS Norfolk, is to tell members of the public that dentists are taking on new patients across the county.
It is also reminding people that NHS dental treatment for children is free and some adults will not have to pay anything at all. Linda Hillman, consultant in public health improvement at NHS Norfolk, said: 'Dental diseases are still very common and in the early stages give no symptoms. With professional advice and care most people can expect to keep their teeth for life and this is why dental services are a priority for the NHS.
'The number of people using dental services across Norfolk is currently just below 63pc of the population. However, the number of patients seen in the last year has increased by 10,000 and NHS Norfolk has commissioned extra services which will see an extra 7,000 patients treated in the year ahead.
'Practices will do all they can to make sure that your visit is a pleasant experience.'
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Patients may be used to having regular check-ups every six months, but now check-ups may not need to be so often and could be any time between six months and two years depending on a person's dental health.
Mark Ter-Berg, dentist at Manor House Dental Surgery in Long Stratton, said: 'Visiting your dentist is important. They will check your oral health by looking at your mouth, teeth and gums. If you need treatment, they will explain what is involved, and they will also give you advice to help you avoid problems in the future.
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'If you are nervous about visiting a dentist or haven't been for a long time, don't worry. Discuss this with the practice and they will help and support you.
'If you have children, take them for regular check-ups as they are growing up. With the right teamwork between parents/carers and your dentist, child tooth decay can be a thing of the past. Your dentist can advise you about healthy eating for your child and suggest ways of stopping decay in its tracks. You may have experienced problems yourself in the past but the kids no longer need to.'
NHS dentistry is one of the few NHS services where a charge is made. However, NHS treatment is free if, when the treatment starts, the patient is under 18, under 19 and in full-time education, pregnant or a mother who has given birth in the last 12 months, staying at an NHS hospital where their doctor is the hospital dentist, receiving state benefits.
Patients may also be able to claim for some help towards the cost of their NHS dental treatment if they are on a low income.
If you would like help to find an NHS dentist in your area you can:
* Call NHS Norfolk PALS on 0800 587 4132
* Search the local dental map on the NHS Norfolk website www.norfolk.nhs.uk
* Call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 (24 hrs)
* Visit the NHS Choices website www.nhs.uk
NHS dental charges are now easier to understand, and dentists should always tell patients how much they need to pay before starting treatment.
For more information about dental treatment and tips on how to look after your teeth and gums, visit www.norfolk.nhs.uk/your-nhs-dentist