North Wales is facing a "dentist shortage crisis" as 14% of dentists in the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board approach retirement.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Jane Dodds accused Labour of being "asleep at the wheel" and said it was "no wonder" people were turning to "DIY dentistry".

A report compiled by Ms Dodds on access to dentistry found that people were living in pain or unable to eat properly, because they could not find treatment - and that the poorest were suffering most as they could not afford a private service

There were also examples of people resorting to pulling out their own teeth at home because they can’t get a dentist's appointment.

READ MORE: Health Board express concerns over dropping dentist numbers after union warning

According to figures from Stats Wales, 13.95% of dentists in the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board in 2020-2021 were over the age of 55 and between 2019-20 and 2020-21, the number of NHS dentists in Wales fell by over 5% with 83 fewer NHS dentists on the books.

The Leader: Jane DoddsJane Dodds

Jane Dodds described the shortages as a "scandal", adding: "These statistics show why it is sadly no wonder people are desperately turning to DIY dentistry across Wales. Our NHS dental system is at a breaking point, it really is a scandal.

“The Welsh Government is asleep at the wheel when it comes to the crisis in NHS dentistry. To be clear, this crisis is not the fault of dentists. They work extremely hard and have to operate within the system that exists. But that system is broken and only the Welsh Government can fix it."

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A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Dental services continue to recover from the pandemic and we have allocated an additional £2m a year to support access for NHS patients.

“Public health and infection control measures during the pandemic to keep dentistry staff and patients safe, meant fewer people could be treated. 

“There are additional training places for dental care professionals later this year and we are also working with the British Dental Association and the wider dental community to reform the contracting arrangements for NHS dental provision.

“A dental academy in Bangor is due to open in autumn 2022 and is anticipated to provide access for 12,000-15,000 patients with its extended opening hours.”

READ MORE: Delyn MP raises residents' concerns over closure of dental practice with BUPA

Delyn MP Rob Roberts admitted that the lack of dentists is a concern for his constituents.

He added: "It is a problem both locally and nationally.  

"I have had many meetings, with representatives from the Health Board, with BUPA, and with the British Dental Association to discuss the issue, the general consensus is that there is a two-fold problem, firstly in the shortage of dentists generally and secondly in the way in which the dentistry contracts are paid at a national level.

"The fact is that private dentistry work subsidises NHS work, and when we consider that the BUPA practice in Flint has been running at a loss for over three years, carrying those losses so that they could provide a service to the community, it’s obvious that isn’t a situation that can continue.  

"The funding formula means that a practice couldn’t survive solely on NHS work."