Labour has vowed to bring back free dental check-ups for everybody in England if they win the general election.

The party has pledged to scrap the £22.70 charge for a basic visit to an NHS dentist, meaning check-ups, oral cancer examinations, X-rays, clinical scaling and polishing and emergency treatment will be free.

The British Dental Association has estimated the plans will cost £450 million per year.

Labour say it will free up resources in the long-term by focusing on prevention, with one in five adults currently putting off going to see a dentist because they can’t afford it.

Dentist Fees were introduced in 1951 to pay for UK involvement in the Korean War.

Jeremy Corbyn says the long term goal is for all NHS dental treatment to be free at the point of use

He said: ‘More than half of adults and 40 per cent of children haven’t been to the dentist in the last year. If you don’t go for check-ups, you store up problems.



‘Over 100,000 are admitted to hospital every year because of problems with their teeth.

‘This is the first step towards making all dentistry services free of charge as part of a truly universally free health service.’

Labour’s shadow health secretary Johnathon Ashworth said worrying numbers are turning to internet kits for scaling and makeshift fillings, which can cause major problems in the long-run.

The plans comes on top of the £26bn ‘Rescue Package’ the party has already pledged to save the NHS.

The party say free dental care would take pressure off both GPs and hospitals.

Statistics show 515,000 patients with toothache go to GPs or A&E every year– costing the NHS more than £38million.

Tooth decay is the main reason for hospital admissions among five to nine-year-olds, with more than 100 children a day having their rotting teeth removed in hospital.

The Labour pledge has been welcomed by British Dental Association chair-man Mick Armstrong.

He said: ‘When you give patients a reason to avoid check-ups, they bottle up problems and pile huge pressure across our NHS.

‘Sadly prevention is impossible when families on moderate incomes need to think twice about seeking care.

‘Dentists are health professionals, not tax collectors. These charges are designed to discourage attendance, while providing cover for government cuts.

‘However any plans to boost access must go hand in hand with support for a service facing serious recruitment problems. NHS dentistry cannot be delivered without NHS dentists.’



Labour said the plans would also allow for early detection of signs of oral cancer, which claims more lives than testicular and cervical cancer combined.

However it has been criticised by the Conservative Party, who say Labour are asking tax payers to ‘foot another bill’.

A spokesperson said: ‘Dental check-ups are already free for those who don’t have the means to pay.

‘Labour’s plans will force taxpayers to foot yet another bill amounting to hundreds of millions pounds, simply to extend provision to people who can already afford it.

‘Labour’s proposals for a four-day week and uncontrolled immigration would cripple our NHS, leaving it understaffed and underfunded, and we would waste all of next year with two chaotic referendums under Corbyn.’