Swindon is one of the worst areas in the UK for NHS dentists taking on new patients, figures suggest.

Research by health and wellness experts UNTIL found that the town ranked fourth nationally as they calculated that residents only had an 18 per cent chance of being accepted by an NHS dentist, with only nine practices out of 50 in an area with a population of 185,609 people taking these on.

This result tied Swindon with Cheltenham, Northampton, and Plymouth, but placed it above Norwich – which had eight practices out of 50 taking on NHS patients, a 16 per cent chance of being accepted – and Bristol – only seven practices, a 14 per cent chance of being accepted.

One patient, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Adver: "I have to go to Marlborough to see a dentist - and have only been able to start doing that this year.

"I've lived in Swindon for three years, but there were no NHS spaces available and I couldn't afford private care, so for a long time, I did not have any check-ups or awareness of the health of my mouth.

"I could get a GP fairly quickly but finding a dentist was much harder. I feel grateful to have one, even if it's a 40-minute drive away."

Birmingham ranked the best for residents looking to be accepted into a new dentist, with up to 68 per cent availability. 

A YouGov survey reported that more than a third of respondents could not find an NHS dentist in their area to take them on, with seven per cent even attempting DIY dentistry at home.

Another Swindon resident said: "For a long time, I’ve suffered with a bone disease in my mouth which causes the bone to crumble and the teeth to become loose.

"Due to the current situation with NHS waiting lists, I've had to pull out four of my own teeth - nobody should have to be in this situation, to suffer like this. 

"The worst part is I know I will have to pull out another tooth shortly because the pain is too much - I’ve emailed so many different dentists and they’ve all said they’re unable to help as they have no appointments."

Smile Dentistry in Swindon is backing a national campaign that wants more to be done to help patients in this situation.

A notice in the practice's window said: "NHS dentistry faces a crisis it may not survive.

"The government's recovery plan does not go anywhere near enough to fix this crisis and we will not stop in our fight for real change."

Many patients are increasingly open to exploring alternative dental care options outside of the NHS.

And it is not only patients who are being impacted by the dental crisis, as many professionals are transitioning to private practices in an effort to have increased autonomy over their services, better compensation and an improved work-life balance.

Dr Adarsh Thanki, dental director at UNTIL, said the data underscores the urgent need for systemic changes to address both patient access and the well-being of dental professionals.

He added: “Long waiting times and rising costs are creating significant barriers for patients seeking dental care but it’s also having a knock-on effect for those dentists currently working in the NHS.

“Stress and burnout is a huge problem for NHS dentists and is leading many to consider alternative options, such as going private.

“We must address these challenges to ensure accessible and effective dental care for all otherwise patients will not be getting their dental needs met and dentists will continue to buckle under the pressure."

Have you struggled to see a dentist? Tell us your story by emailing daniel.angelini@newsquest.co.uk