NHS Grampian has the second-lowest rate of adults registered with an NHS dentist in Scotland, new figures have shown.
The figures, which run up to September, show just 82% of patients in the north-east are registered with an NHS dentist, significantly below the national average of 96%.
However, health bosses put the figures down to a shortage of dentists in the region a “number of years ago”, with many adults still registered to private dentists.
Meanwhile, 91.8% of children in the north-east are registered to an NHS dentist, against a national average of 94.3%.
The figures show a slight improvement from the same time in 2018 when 80% of adults in the north-east were registered and 91% of children.
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A spokesman for NHS Grampian said: “Registrations with NHS dentists have risen significantly for both adults and children in recent years and this is to be welcomed.
“Our staff have worked hard to promote registration with dentists – including using TV advertising campaigns – to ensure people are aware they can receive NHS dental care.
“Due to a shortage of NHS dentists in the region a number of years ago, we still find many adults are instead registered with private dentists, rather than not being registered at all.”
Across the country, 5.2 million people were registered with an NHS dentist as of September 30, or 95.7% of the population – an increase of 2.3% since last year.
Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick welcomed the improvement Scotland-wide.
He said: “It is very encouraging to see that a record number of people in Scotland are registered with an NHS dentist.
“Substantial investment by the Scottish Government, along with actions taken by NHS boards, means nearly twice as many people were registered for NHS dental services in September 2019 than was the case in September 2007.
“Improving people’s dental health can contribute greatly to wellbeing but they need to be able to access NHS dental services.
“Having your teeth actually checked is key.”