A BOLTON MP is calling on the Health Minister to improve access to NHS dentistry.

Yasmin Qureshi and 17 other MPs have asked Matt Hancock to appropriately fund and commission dentistry "to ensure that everyone has access to decent dental care".

The British Dental Association (BDA) called the letter a "vital message".

Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen of the BDA said: "[Mr Hancock] needs to explain why on his watch dental patients in pain are unable to secure the care they need."

Ms Qureshi, who is vice-chairman of a Parliamentary group on dentistry, said: "NHS dentistry has been pushed to the brink and the most vulnerable are suffering because they cannot afford to pay for treatment."

NHS Digital figures show more than a third of children in Bolton had not seen a dentist in 12 months and half of adults had not seen a dentist in two years.

According to the NHS Services website, only four dental surgeries in Bolton South East are taking on adult NHS patients, none of which are in Farnworth or Kearsley.

Research by the BDA, based on a government GP survey, revealed nearly a quarter of patients not on the books of an NHS dentist had tried and failed to secure an NHS appointment.

Mr Hancock was sent the letter by MPs after he urged patients waiting for a dentist to use a private firm.

He backed MyDentist after visiting one of their surgeries in Suffolk.

Ms Qureshi said she and her fellow signatories were "extremely disappointed" by Mr Hancock's endorsement of the company.

She took issue with him endorsing a company charging more than the NHS for dental services, for example, £878 for a set of dentures, compared to £256.50 on the NHS.

She said: "These kinds of prices are completely prohibitive for millions of people around the country, and undoubtably so for the third of all NHS patients who are currently entitled to free NHS dental care."