More than four million children did not see an NHS dentist last year, damning statistics show.
This means that almost 40 percent of all children went without a check-up, even though they needed one every 12 months.
House of Commons figures reveal a postcode lottery that left half of children in the East of England unable to see a dentist in the year to June 2023.
Previous data has revealed “dental deserts” where patients find it virtually impossible to register with crowded local practices.
The Liberal Democrats, who carried out the analysis, are calling on ministers to announce an “emergency rescue plan” for NHS dentistry.
Deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “This must serve as a wake-up call for the Government. A rescue package for dentistry is urgently needed.
“This means reforming NHS dentistry to increase the number of appointments, supervised teeth cleaning in schools and childcare settings, and abolishing VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.”
Eddie Crouch, chairman of the British Dental Association, added: “Every political party needs to wake up and put forward an action plan, otherwise this service has no future.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are making progress in improving NHS dental services and the number of children treated by NHS dentists has increased by 43.6 per cent over the past year.”
“1.7 million more adults and 800,000 more children are receiving NHS dental care compared to last year.”