NHS England data shows that in the two years to December 2021, 29,356 adults in the region visited a dentist – 40% of the population – and a significant drop from the previous 24 months when 37,458 (51% ) attended a date.
Between March and June 2020, dental practices were instructed to close and postpone routine and non-emergency dental care to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Data for children is recorded on an annual basis and shows that the volume of dental visits, which has fallen significantly during the pandemic, has shown signs of improvement over the past year.
Figures show 7,826 (39%) young people in Hartlepool visited their dentist last year, up from 25% in 2020 and 54% in 2019.
The British Dental Association says the figures are proof that NHS dentistry is on ‘the last ditch floor’ and in dire need of reform.
It says 40 million fewer treatments were delivered between April 2020 and December 2021.
BDA chairman Eddie Crouch said every missed appointment translates to bottled up issues that could see patients left behind needing more extensive and costly interventions.
He said: “For the sake of our patients, urgent and real reform cannot remain stuck on the government’s ‘too difficult’ list.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘Dental care levels are rising and emergency care has returned to pre-pandemic levels thanks to the hard work of staff.