An increasing number of patients are being treated by their GP for dental problems because they do not have access to an NHS dentist in Bolton.
Deane Clinic in Horsfield Street carried out a survey of 1,130 patients and found that 65% have no access to dental care.
Dr Mahadeva Selvarajan, a GP at the clinic, said he has had to give patients painkillers and antibiotics for abscesses and gum disease as patients’ underlying dental problems remain untreated.
He said that this is increasing the risk for patients with chronic health problems.
Dr Selvarajan said that some patients have been on waiting lists for over 18 months but have “little hope” of getting a dentist.
Dr Selvarajan is hoping to launch a new dental practice and he is being backed by Bolton West MP Julie Hilling.
He said: “Whilst the NHS lists dentists are open to new patients in Bolton, they are not able to register patients for NHS services, only private patients. Instead patients attend their GP but unfortunately we are only able to provide symptomatic treatment such as painkillers or antibiotics.
He added: “Many patients develop recurrent infections and suffer undue pain. Recurrent infections can potentially lead to a more serious infection that a patient with chronic disease such as diabetes or heart disease may not be able to cope with.”
Ms Hilling said: “Clearly, more needs to be done to ensure there is adequate provision of NHS dentists.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Bolton PCT said: “Improving access to NHS dentists is a priority for NHS Bolton. During 2012 and 2013 we invested more than £250,000 of recurrent funding to provide an additional 3,000 new patients with access to an NHS dentist. We are also reviewing dental services in an effort to establish an extended hours service across the borough. It is envisaged this will be in place by April 1, 2013.”