More than 7,000 people are waiting to be allocated an NHS dentist in Cornwall, according to health service figures.
A freedom of information request to NHS England revealed that a total of 7,152 people were without a dentist in the county, waiting an average of 195 days – more than 28 weeks – to be offered a place. NHS dental services are available to everyone in England and require patients to register their details with a local practice, yet many are oversubscribed.
The NHS website states: "Everyone should be able to access good quality NHS dental services. Simply find a practice that's convenient for you and phone them to see if appointments are available."
However, thousands have found that appointments are not available. Hannah O'Neil, 34, of Penzance, said: "Our family has been on the waiting list for over two years now. I worry about my children's teeth developing and can't afford to go private."
A spokesman for NHS England in Cornwall said: "We have plans for a new dental practice in the west of Cornwall that would help to reduce the numbers of patients on the waiting list, and in the meantime we have put in place extra measures to help to support access to services."