Bury is facing a “dental timebomb” with patients delaying check-ups by five years and 40 per cent not going at all.
A new survey suggests the cost of living crisis and a shortage of NHS dentists is to blame.
Greater Manchester has 762 NHS dentists serving a population of 2,822,000 – or one NHS dentist for 3,560 residents.
Out of these 762, Bury only has 11 NHS dentists in the whole borough, according to the NHS dentist finder.
The average gap between children having dental appointments in Bury has gone over a year for the first time and now stands at 15 months.
Men wait an average of five years between check-ups and 45 per cent don’t go to the dentist at all unless they have a problem.
Women wait an average of three years between check-ups and 35 per cent only go if they have a problem.
Research compiled by Dental Phobia, a website established to help people who fear the dentist, has revealed in a patient survey of 5,000 that patients in Greater Manchester are delaying going to check-ups by up to five years – and many are not going at all.
They claim the gap between patients going for check-ups has widened since Covid with many falling out of the habit during the pandemic.
However many patients in the region are not returning to the dentist due to the fear of the cost.
Two-thirds of patients (67 per cent) say their biggest worry prior to an appointment is the bill they get at the end of it.
This compares to the 53 per cent of patients who fear going to the dentist largely because of the pain and the needles used for anaesthetics prior to treatment.
Just under half of patients (46 per cent) said a shortage of NHS dentists had put them off seeking treatment because they are worried a private dentist would be too expensive.
Dentist Rhona Eskander, a world leader in dental care, said: “Bury is facing a dental timebomb if patients don’t get back into the habit of seeking regular check-ups.
“What is most worrying is that the cost-of-living crisis is forcing some parents to cut corners with their children’s teeth.
“Regular dental appointments are easy to put off and lots of people in Greater Manchester got out of the habit of going to the dentist during Covid and have not returned.
“Patients end up losing their teeth because small cavities which could be fixed inexpensively when they first develop grow quickly without treatment.
“And more serious conditions such as the early signs of oral cancer – particularly important for patients who smoke and drink regularly – are often first spotted by dentists.
“One of the most common signs of head and neck cancer is an ulcer which develops in the mouth and does not heal within 14 days. Caught early, survival rates are good, but they drop rapidly.”