THERE are fears that West Wales is facing a "dentist shortage crisis" as over a fifth of dentists in west Wales approach retirement.

According to figures from Stats Wales, some 14.18% of dentists in Wales in 2020-2021 were over the age of 55.

In Hywel Dda Health Board area the figure is 21%, making it the worse affected health board in Wales.

Between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 the number of dentisits in Wales fell by over 5%, with 83 fewer NHS dentists on the books. 

Furthermore, last year a poll by the Faculty of Dental Surgeons found 19% of dentists believed it will take more than two years to get through the volume of dental patients waiting for treatment.


Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Mid & West Wales Senedd Member Jane Dodds accused Labour of being "asleep at the wheel" in Wales.

"Access to NHS dentists is already a postcode lottery and with 21% of dentists facing retirement soon the problem only looks set to get worse," she said.

“The Welsh Government is asleep at the wheel when it comes to the crisis in NHS dentistry. To be clear, this crisis is not the fault of dentists.

"They work extremely hard and have to operate within the system that exists. But that system is broken and only the Welsh Government can fix it.

“Clearly, the Welsh Government needs to step up and review the system which drives dentists away from performing NHS activity.

"The lack of NHS dentists across the country is a real crisis for people. As well as being unable to sort out dental pain in the short term, people are storing up problems for the future without regular check-ups.

“To help reduce current pressures while more dentists are trained, I would urge the Welsh Government to consider increasing the availability of dental therapists and nurses, as well as considering introducing travelling NHS dentists who can rotate through areas of concern to help clear backlogs.

“People across West Wales are being let down, and this is especially true in rural Wales, where the problem is even more serious.”