The British Dental Association (BDA) of Scotland has called on the government to do more to tackle oral surgery waiting times.
The BDA has spoken out after a Freedom of Information (FOI) Request from the Scottish Liberal Democrats revealed that some patients have waited more than 120 weeks for ‘life-changing’ maxillofacial treatment.
The FOI request found that one patient in Grampian waited 243 weeks (4.6 years) for an outpatient procedure – falling far short of the government’s 12-week waiting target.
The figures cover treatment for mouth, jaw, face and neck treatments which can restore functionality following injury or serious illnesses like oral cancer – one of Scotland’s fastest growing cancers.
BDA Scotland said problems filling consultant vacancies, as well as underfunding for primary and secondary dental care were fuelling the wait-time crisis.
The number of hospital referrals for tooth extractions is also on the rise, because of the lack of support for senior clinicians in high street clinics in training younger dentists, BDA Scotland said.
High street dentists are currently paid just £16.25 for an extraction. Data published in June revealed more 5,000 people had been waiting for more than 12 weeks for dental extractions in Scottish hospitals.
David McColl, Chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee said: “Patients shouldn’t be waiting eons for life-changing surgery. These procedures can help restore both functionality and appearance to a patient’s teeth and mouth after cancer or serious injuries.
“Years of underinvestment and failure to support high street practice are heaping huge pressures on our hospitals. Ministers can’t go on treating dentistry as an optional extra in Scotland’s health service.”