RESIDENTS in Basingstoke and Andover are facing enormous difficulty accessing an NHS dentist with many forced to suffer in pain or fork out for eyewatering private treatment.

The availability of NHS dentists is a nationwide issue but residents in both towns claim there is a stark lack of accessible dental care with NHS waiting lists soaring as high as three years.

An NHS dentist finder website reveals there are just six dentists in Andover and 12 in Basingstoke taking on new patients - and mostly via an urgent referral.

Many residents are being told their dentist is no longer taking NHS patients but private dentists come at a cost many can't afford.

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Diane Wedge said her husband has been unable to find a dentist in Andover. 

She posted on Facebook: "My husband needs a dentist appointment but no one can see him because he has a wobbly tooth and he just can't afford to pay."

Thelma Rogers has also been told by dentists in Andover there are currently no NHS appointments.

She posted: "I had an NHS dentist when Covid started and they weren't seeing people when I phoned them to book an appointment they said I can go private due to not having any available NHS appointments."

Meanwhile, Janine Addison has had ongoing struggles in Andover.

He posted: "Not seen since pre-Covid. They then cancelled my last two appointments. When I called for another they removed me from the NHS list due to non-attendance. Not my doing. But my girls are booked in for September 2023."

This seemed to be the case when dentists in Andover were asked if they were taking on new patients. Tidworth Dental Clinic said it is currently taking on new patients but it is often busy so residents may face a wait to be contacted.

Meanwhile, mydentist, on Western Road in Andover said it is currently at full capacity and is only able to accept private dental patients. Damira Wellum House Dental Practice on Winchester Road said it is currently accepting new NHS patients.

Meanwhile, it seems the situation is much worse in Basingstoke, the Gazette tried to call Winchester Road Dental Practice but could not get through. According to the NHS service finder, the dentist is only taking new NHS patients who have been referred.

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Basingstoke Dental Practice on Shakespeare Road has said it has reached full NHS capacity and the practice is unable to take on new patients. Residents also face the same answer at Gillies Dental Centre with their NHS books currently closed.

Rahela Choudhury commented on Facebook that finding an NHS dental service in Basingstoke is "pretty much impossible".

Meanwhile, Candice Marsh said she has been forced to go private.

Posting on Facebook, she said: "Can’t get into any NHS dentists as they’re at their capacity. I’ve had to go private for a filling. One place quoted £525 for a filling, another was £170 which included the check-up.

"I get that it’s not the dentist's fault but it’s really worrying when you have to pay out x amount for a filling or check-up etc going private as it’s a lot of money in this current living crisis. It’s a shame."

Heather Clarke said she has been waiting to see a dentist in Basingstoke since the start of the pandemic.

She posted on Facebook: "I had four teeth break off at the gum line at the beginning of the first pandemic and have been unable to get any treatment from an NHS dentist since then and although I am now a pensioner I've finally had to resort to going private and I'm sure you can imagine the cost for two extractions and two fillings and I now need new teeth or leave them blank, and I need other work done too."

Jo York, interim dentistry lead for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, said: “Dental services across the country are working to recover services following the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing on providing urgent care for patients as required, working through the backlog of routine appointments that were not able to be provided during the lockdowns. 

“Dental services in Hampshire have also been impacted by workforce recruitment and retention problems, however, new services have been commissioned in Portsmouth, Southampton, Gosport and Havant which, whilst not local to Basingstoke and Andover, will free up capacity elsewhere, as some of the population in these areas will have previously travelled for treatment.”