Dentists : The Tooth Be Told

In 2016 we spoke to 44 people about their experience of going to the dentist. In 2017 we wanted to find out what had changed as a result.
Front cover of The Tooth be Told report on NHS Dentists in Tunbridge Wells


We heard about challenges accessing a dentist, confusion about dental charges and difficulties getting emergency treatment. We also heard a distinct theme about the difficulty for care home residents to get a dentist.

Although we now attend the Local Dental Network to ensure that patient feedback is including when changes to services are planned, it is clear this is a complex area and things take a long time to change.

6 key findings

  • The majority of people we spoke to were unsure what to do if they had a dental problem out of normal working hours.
  • Information from Kent Dental Helpline was sometimes not up to date; the service was also not well known. 
  • In November and December 2015, we heard that none of the 15 NHS dentists within the Tunbridge Wells town area were offering new places or appointments to new patients; in January 2016, three of the 15 had availability.
  • People’s views and knowledge of the bands of treatment, NHS dental charges and exemptions were varied
  • Patients were unaware of how to complain about their treatment or their dentist
  • The cost of private dentistry and lack of NHS dentistry means that some people don’t go to the dentist at all

Since our report we've been working with Healthwatch England to escalate the issues we are hearing to a national level. We are pleased to report that the Care Quality Commission now include oral health and access to a dentist in their inspections to care homes which has undoubtedly improved dental care for people living in a care home.

We continue to raise issues we hear about dentists with decision makers.


If you have been to a dentist recently, tell us your story.  Contact us on 0808 801 0102 or use the website to share your feedback directly.

You can read our reports below.

Healthwatch Kent Dental Impact report
Healthwatch England report on dentistry
Healthwatch Kent report on dentists 2016

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