Community dental services are struggling because newly-qualified dentists,
crippled by debt, are avoiding NHS work.
Dental students are abandoning NHS to make more money
The British Dental Association (BDA) said a survey has revealed that young dentists were opting for better-paid private work, rather than NHS jobs in clinics, in a bid to improve their finances faster.
Last month more than 600 people queued outside a practice in Carmarthen, west Wales, in the hope of claiming one of the 300 new NHS places.
BDA spokesman Dr John Renshaw said: "That picture evoked a Third World Country where you have to queue to access what ought to be part of NHS care."
Only the first 300 were accepted and the rest were turned away. Police were called in after the surgery staff received abusive calls from disgruntled would-be patients
The new survey findings will further fuel concerns about the growing shortage of patient places with NHS dentists and dental services in rural Wales.
The BDA survey found that average debt among dental students rose by 23% in the
last year alone with final year students being an average of £12,700 in debt.
The percentage of graduates with debts over £30,000 has also more than tripled
Jim Lafferty, chairman of the BDA's young dentist committee, said:
"Graduating from university should be the beginning of the rest of your life,
but dental graduates are starting with a £13,000 millstone around their necks.
"Debt is becoming a bigger feature of students' lives, with 49% of them
taking on part-time jobs to bolster their finances in spite of their gruelling
The level of debt was higher among men than women - £13,900 compared to
A third of those taking part in the survey said their level of debt would influence
their career choice, with the influence stronger the higher the level of debt.
Over 600 people queued in an attempt to get on a Carmarthen NHS dentist's list
Of those with debts under £12,700, only 15% said their debt influenced their
career choice, while 49% of those with debts higher that this said their choices
would be affected.
Concern about debt also influenced undergraduate life, with one in five living
at home while studying and two-thirds of these saying finances were the reason
"The BDA is currently looking at ways of encouraging people from a broader
spectrum of backgrounds to consider dentistry as a career.
"Our fear is that concerns over debt may render that work useless," Mr
The BDA's survey was based on a survey of 339 students at 13 UK dental