The county’s health watchdog says people are finding it impossible to find NHS dental care.
Healthwatch Norfolk has joined forces with other Healthwatch organisations across Britain to find out how bad things are.
In Norfolk, patients are finding it is impossible to get dental treatment particularly if they are new to the area or have not attended an appointment for a considerable time
They also found:
48% of respondents in the East said they found it difficult to book an NHS dental appointment, whilst one in five (20%) could not access all the treatments they needed.
One in five (20%) respondents in the East said they had to pay privately to get all the treatment they required.
One in six (17%) reported they felt pressured to pay privately when they booked their dental appointment. Similar numbers (17%) said their NHS dentist did not explain the costs before starting their treatment.
More than one in 10 (12%) reported that their NHS dentist charged more for the treatments than the advertised NHS charges.
Almost a third (29%) said lack of access to dental care led to more serious problems, making them feel anxious. Others said lack of timely dental care made it hard to eat or speak properly (16%); and made them avoid going out (14%).
Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk, said: “We get more phone feedback about the difficulty of accessing dental care than anything else. People are finding it impossible to access the help they need at a price they can afford, with some having no alternative but to seek private care or just go without treatment.
“In Norfolk, the lack of dentists is particularly acute as those practices keen to increase their NHS lists cannot find the staff for this to happen.
“We are aware that some new NHS dental contracts have been awarded and, in the short term, we want to see more information on these to be made public as a matter of urgency so that people can access the care they need.
“There also needs to be an urgent look at NHS dental contracts so that this can be tackled before the new systems of health care begin nationally next year. It is simply unacceptable that people cannot access NHS dental care anywhere in Norfolk.”