Accessing dentistry through Covid-19

We've written an overview of people's experiences of NHS dentistry throughout the pandemic. We explore what has happened, what issues people are still facing accessing a dentist, and our concerns for the future.

This briefing will be discussed by a local Scrutiny Committee at their next meeting on Wednesday 16th March 2022. Scrutiny Committees gather information about issues impacting local people, and use this to make recommendations to Sheffield City Council.

Key themes

The briefing gives a timeline of changes to NHS dentistry throughout the pandemic, and shares personal stories from some of those affected. It also draws out the following key themes from the last two years:

  • People have found it difficult to get clear information: this includes confusion about 'registering' with a dentist, pricing, and more, and has left people unsure of their rights
  • Some people were unable to access urgent care: people have told us they've been left in pain, or unable to eat or talk properly
  • People who have a regular dentist have had a different experience to people who don’t: people who were unable to access care were more likely to have not had a regular dentist before the pandemic, and now they cannot get one
  • A growing rift - NHS vs private care: we are concerned about the growing waiting lists for NHS check ups (over two years at most practices), and the fact that private care seems more readily available for those who can afford to pay
  • The impact of delayed treatment: we know that preventative care and treating smaller issues as they arise are important for people's longer term health outcomes
  • Children’s access to NHS dentistry: there is growing concern for children born during or shortly before the pandemic, who have never had the opportunity to see a dentist, and the impact this could have on their long term health

Read the briefing in full below

If you need these documents in a different format, please email or call 0114 253 6688.

What next?

This briefing will be discussed at the next Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday 16th March 2022 at 10am

This is a public meeting, which you can attend in person or watch via a webcast. You can also submit a question ahead of the meeting to

Find out more about NHS dentistry

We're supporting a campaign led by our umbrella organisation Healthwatch England. We're calling for NHS England and the Government to step in and act now to speed up dental contract reform and provide meaningful, sustained funding to tackle the underlying problems of access and affordability. 

NHS dentistry should be in the frontline of tackling health inequalities and at the moment it is not working.

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You can help make health and care services better by sharing your experiences and ideas.

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