Northern Ireland dental practices that provide NHS services may “struggle to remain financially viable”, the British Dental Association (BDA) has said.
The body has warned they are becoming “increasingly reliant” on private work to maintain health service dentistry within their practices.
The BDA has launched its manifesto ahead of the assembly elections in May.
It said that fees provided for NHS care have fallen by “as much as a quarter in real terms” in the last 10 years.
The chair of the BDA’s Northern Ireland Council, Roz McMullan, said an “ambitious oral health strategy” is needed.
“Northern Ireland’s dentists are working to a financial model that no longer adds up,” she said.
“Overstretched and underfunded, health service-committed practices are struggling to remain financially viable.
“Colleagues feel they are being pushed out of NHS dentistry – at the very time we face a huge Covid backlog.
“We all need to know this service has a future, because otherwise the UK’s deepest oral health inequalities will only widen.
“It is incumbent that the next assembly prioritises the rebuild and reform of dentistry in Northern Ireland.”
The organisation has also called for investment in increased places at the School of Dentistry at Queen’s University.
Last year, the number of allocated undergraduate places in Northern Ireland remained fixed at 60, according to figures from the Office for Students.
There was a 10% increase in the number of allocated undergraduate places in England in the same period.
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