Fewer people are being seen by NHS dentists than before the pandemic. The number of adults who have seen an NHS dentist in the previous two years fell from 22 million in June 2019 to 18 million in June 2023.

In February 2024, the government at the time published its plan for dental recovery. The plan aimed to deliver an additional 1.5 million treatments or 2.5 million appointments by 2025, making dental services “faster, simpler and fairer”. The plan has three main components:

  • expanding access so everyone that needs to see a dentist will be able to
  • launching a new focus on prevention and good oral health for young children
  • developing the dental workforce in line with the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan

This report will build on our previous work in this area, including our 2020 report on Dentistry in England and our submitted evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee 2023 Inquiry.


This study will focus on the recently published dental recovery plan, and whether it is on course to meet its objectives. The study will be a factual investigation to set out:

  • the current position of NHS dentistry
  • how the previous government developed its dental recovery plan
  • what early progress has been made with the plan and how the government plans to evaluate and monitor its impact

NAO Team

Director: Lee Summerfield
Audit Manager: Tom Tyson