Be patient, the NHS is telling Islanders, as dentists face a mammoth task to catch up with waiting lists made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The NHS has told the County Press it is working on some additional funding to help practices provide appointments, to ensure there is more access for Isle of Wight patients. 

Two Island practices applied to NHS England for additional funding - and work is underway to to organise a start date.

A shortage of dentists was already frequently reported on the Island.

Now the wait for an appointment is growing, since the first cancellations during the coronavirus lockdown in March 2020.

In a statement to the County Press, NHS England said: “All dental practices are now open, but they are not able to see as many patients as normal, due to the need to have in place appropriate social distancing measures and additional cleaning for the safety of both patients and practice staff.

"In line with national guidance dental practices are prioritising those patients with the most urgent dental care needs or who were in a course of treatment before the closure.

"This means that patients needing routine dental care may have to wait longer for an appointment."

It means some people - including children on the Island - have not be able to see their dentist for up to two years.

It is unclear when appointments will be made available.

What if it's an emergency?

Those who need urgent care should contact any dental practice on the Isle of Wight for a telephone assessment, the NHS advises.

Advice, medication to help to relieve pain, or antibiotics to treat an infection can be given that way.

NHS England said: "We are working with dentists to help them get back to normal as soon as possible but we ask that people are patient as we work to get services back on track.”NHS patients are facing significant delays in receiving dentistry treatment and being told

Nationally, patients say they are finding they are more likely to get treatment if they pay private fees.

One was offered a £60 NHS procedure - if they paid £1,700 for it.

A Healthwatch England briefing document seen by the Press Association said “people have been asked to wait for up to two years to see an NHS dentist” and that a lack of appointments is ”the most common issue”.

Another patient was reportedly told that if they paid for private care, the chances of success of the treatment would rise from 60 per cent to 90 per cent.