Children across Powys are being left for their teeth to rot according to the Welsh Liberal Democrats after figures show huge waiting lists for those under 18 to see an NHS dentist.

According to a freedom of information request submitted by the Liberal Democrats, 794 children in Powys are stuck on a waiting list for an NHS dentist in the county.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have said the figures confirm that Wales is operating on a two-tier system of dentistry where those well-off can afford to go private and those who cannot are left suffering in pain. They have also stated that the long waiting lists are setting up young people for a future of poor oral health.

The Party is calling on the Welsh Labour Government to allow dental hygienists and nurses to carry out more duties in order to help clear backlogs as matching funding on dentistry so it equals per capita spending in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Party also wants the other health boards in Wales to start recording the number of children waiting as at present only Powys and Cardiff do so.

Liberal Democrat Candidate for Brecon and Radnorshire David Chadwick said:

“It is a disgrace that children in Powys are left languishing on waiting lists potentially with rotting teeth or in pain because they cannot get an NHS dentist.

“The Welsh Labour Government have presided over a two-tier system where those who are financially able to go private while those who cannot afford to do so are left on enormous waiting lists, including children.

“This situation needs to be addressed with the highest urgency, Labour cannot continue to take the children of our county for granted or they risk setting up future generations for poor oral health and embedding health inequalities even further.”

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Mid & West Wales Jane Dodds added:

“It is unacceptable that Labour have let the situation in NHS dentistry deteriorate so dramatically. We need to see dentists for all, no matter your economic background.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on the Welsh Labour Government to widen the work allowed to be carried out by dental hygienists and nurses, a move that would have a significant impact on bringing waiting lists down. We also want to see per capita funding for dentistry in Wales raised to the same level as in Scotland and Northern Ireland to tackle the problem in the long term.

“We must not allow a whole generation of young people to be failed in access to dentistry.”