For the first time ever, the UK's dentists are now earning more from private dentistry than NHS work.
The latest figures reveal that the proportion of earnings made from NHS work has fallen from 54 per cent in 2004 to 48 per cent in 2005, with a growing number of dentists turning to private practices even before the controversial new dental contract came into force.
Lester Ellman, a representative for the British Dental Association, said that the growth in private dentistry practices was largely down to demand for new technologies and not necessarily a result of dentists abandoning the health service.
"The demand for private dental care in the UK has grown over the last ten years as more sophisticated and complex treatments become available," he told BBC News.
"NHS dentistry now faces a period of great uncertainty and we are monitoring carefully the impact on NHS dental care for both patients and dentists."
Mr Ellman emphasised that the figures related to a period before the new NHS dental contract was introduced in April this year.
Regardless of the reason behind the shift, the figures are representative of the fact that it is getting increasingly difficult to find a dentist on the NHS in the UK and, as a result, many patients are seeking private dentists, both for preventative treatment and cosmetic dentistry.