Nearly two million people have lost access to an NHS dentist despite the public paying £4.5 billion in dentistry charges since 1997, the Conservative party has said.
Figures show that the annual amount paid in dental charges has risen by 22 per cent and the average NHS patient now pays £26.50 a year, up from £19.60 in 1997.
In 1997/98, there were 19.79 million adults registered with an NHS dentist in England and charges were £388.9 million.
In 2006/07, charges had reached £475.4 million, despite figures for March 2006 showing that only 17.95 million were registered with a dentist, with many having switched to private dentistry.
Shadow health minister Mike Penning commented: "Not only are people now paying 35 per cent more when they see their NHS dentist, but Labour's botched policies mean that millions of hard-working families have completely lost access to affordable dental care."
However, the Department of Health claimed that the figures were "misleading" and that the level of service is improving.