MORE than four out of five NHS dentists in North Ayrshire are no longer accepting new adult patients for treatment on the health service.

A total of 23 dental practices across the region were contacted by the BBC as part of an investigation into concerns over a lack of access to treatment.

Just three of them said they are able to offer appointments to new adult patients.

While NHS dental treatment is not free for most adults, it is subsidised.

The British Dental Association (BDA) said NHS dentistry is now at “a tipping point” as it urged the Scottish Government to invest more cash in services.

From April to June this year, practices received a 1.7 multiplier to the fees paid to provide NHS care as a reflection of the unprecedented backlog they have faced since the Covid pandemic struck.

However, this was reduced to 1.3 from July, with the BDA claiming this leaves many dentists at risk of delivering some NHS treatments at a loss.

David McColl, chair of the BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee, said: “The Scottish Government promised free NHS dentistry for all but the public are now living with the harsh reality.

“You can’t run a health service on soundbites and slogans. Ministers need to take a long, hard look at the evidence and bring forward the reforms and resources we need to deliver for patients.”

Between May and July, BBC researchers reached out to every dental practice in Scotland with an NHS contract to ask if they were taking on new patients.

Around four in five confirmed they were not accepting new adult patients.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “The number of people using dentists has risen sharply since Covid restrictions were reduced – a trend that is projected to continue in the coming months – meaning backlogs can be cleared and more people can access these vital services.

“The longer-term trend shows an increase of 32 per cent in dentists providing NHS dental services for the period 2007 to 2022.”