Suffolk campaigners have called for NHS dental reform to be a top priority for the major political parties ahead of the general election next month.

The national Toothless in England group, which began three years ago as Toothless in Suffolk after both of Leiston’s NHS dental practices closed, urged parties to commit to an NHS dentist for everyone and for all dental treatments to be free.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after launching the Conservatives' manifestoPrime Minister Rishi Sunak after launching the Conservatives' manifesto (Image: PA)

On Tuesday, the Conservatives announced their manifesto - building on their Dental Recovery Plan from earlier this year.

They pledged 2.5million more NHS dental appointments and a 40% boost in training places for dentists and dental care professionals.

The manifesto also said: “We will ensure newly qualified dentists have to work in the NHS for a number of years or pay back their training costs.”

Meanwhile, Labour has pledged 100,000 urgent child dental appointments, a reform of dentists’ contracts and supervised brushing for children.

But campaigners have warned that such pledges may not go far enough, or be followed through.

Mark Jones, founder of Toothless in England, said: “Of course, we welcome any announcements that look to improve access to NHS dentistry.

Mark Jones, founder of Toothless in England/Toothless in SuffolkMark Jones, founder of Toothless in England/Toothless in Suffolk (Image: Charlotte Bond)

"When it comes to children, it’s absolutely critical for their long term health they get access to oral health education and dental care from an early age. 

“Overall, patients have suffered long enough from chronic underfunding and an unwillingness by successive governments to reform a broken oral health system.

"What campaigning on these issues over the last three years has taught us is that the promises made in Westminster are rarely kept.

“Toothless in England will continue holding government accountable for the dental crisis, whichever political colour stripe they are.

"We are determined to make the case for a NHS oral healthcare system that put patient needs first."