The Scottish Liberal Democrats have warned that there is a “risk of death” to the dental industry in Scotland after new figures revealed that hundreds of dentists are taking an early retirement.
Released through freedom of information requests from the party, the statistics showed that out of 249 dentists that retired since 2015, only 14 have waited until the state pension age to do so.
It comes after the British Dental Association warned that ministers “are pulling away the life support” for NHS dentists in Scotland through funding cuts.
Public Health Scotland figures recently revealed that the number of patients seen in 2021 was less than half when compared to 2019.
Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said that there is “real risk that we see the death of NHS dentistry in Scotland”.
He said: “Dentists I speak to tell me that engaging with the Scottish Government over current funding levels is worse than pulling teeth.
“There is a real risk that we see the death of NHS dentistry in Scotland unless the Health Secretary is prepared to change course.
“These figures show that even before the present crisis, hundreds of experienced professionals were taking early retirement every year.
“A shortage of dentists creates stress for patients and increases the workload for those who remain. The Scottish Government should be doing far more to encourage experienced staff to stay on.
“Liberal Democrats were instrumental in introducing free dental checks in Scotland and in pressing for a new dental school to address the shortage of dentists, particularly in remote and rural areas of Scotland.
“As a result, we’ve made progress as a country.
“That is all being undone by the SNP. Everyone should be able to rely on swift and reliable dental care close to home.”