Almost half of Islanders are finding difficulty getting dental treatment and one in four are being recommended to go to the mainland for treatment.

Those are two of the shocking statistics uncovered in a new investigation by watchdog Healthwatch Isle of Wight (HW).

One respondent to the survey said: “Every single appointment has been cancelled an hour before.

"I desperately need multiple tooth extraction and dentures, unable to eat properly.

"My teenage son has not seen a dentist for almost five years since we moved to the Island."

And when the Isle of Wight council health and social care scrutiny committee received the report on Monday, Cllr Karen Lucioni said she had had terrible toothache for over a year before she was forced to get the issue sorted privately but still in that time three dentists left the practice before she was seen.

The lack of dentists was dubbed one of the Island's biggest health inequalities in the report.

Figures found in the 24 months leading up to the end of 2019, only 54.2 per cent of children and 50.6 per cent of adults on the Island had accessed a dentist but it was increasingly difficult to find one.

People were being told to go to the mainland as no Island practices were accepting new patients.

The watchdog is also cautious about the effect poor dental health can have on people's quality of life, leading to serious and devastating consequences on their diet, confidence, ability to work and maintain relationships.

The data demonstrates, HW said, that the entire local population are not accessing dental services anywhere close to the recommended intervals and that the current Island provision needs to be close to doubled to provide the level of dentistry required.

Joanna Smith, HW manager, speaking at the health and social care meeting, said: "This is one of the biggest health inequalities the Island faces.

"If you have the money you can get treatment tomorrow, if not you cannot and it is only an emergency."

In the HW report, it says people have told the watchdog they have gone into debt to pay for essential dental care, people have had to decline or in some cases not seek treatment as it is unaffordable to them.

Emergency dentists have also become a concern, with people reporting difficulty to access the service and the unknowns its poses, resulting in some people living in extreme pain.

Although it is a national issue, HW said it was important to note that travelling to another county for a dentist is something not many Island residents can do as it is not practical nor affordable, further compounding the issue.

HW say it has repeatedly raised the concerns with NHS England, which commissions the dentists on the Island but were initially dismissed, but over the years the issue has only deteriorated.

In its report, HW said it has now been told there is a lack of provision and a new oral needs assessment will need to be completed but 'it is not a current priority'.