A dentist who visits schools to check children’s dental health has said some six-year-olds “have never seen a toothbrush”.
Stuart McCance is part of a voluntary project working with more than 800 pupils in Norfolk and Waveney.
No dental practice in the area is registering children as new NHS patients.
NHS East of England said it was working hard with dental practices to improve access to services.
Mr McCance said he had growing concerns regarding children with cavities.
“In some instances, we’re finding it’s the first time kids have seen a dentist – and they’re five or six years of age – when we should be seeing children from six months when their first tooth comes in,” he said.
“Some, more worryingly, have never seen a toothbrush.
“I did a visit and some were seeing one for the first time at six years of age.”
The voluntary scheme, called Happy Smiles Club, is free for schools and has been run by staff at John G Plummer dentists in Norwich since March last year.
It is currently working with five schools, and sees a dentist and dental nurses visit pupils to educate them on dental health, and also give check-ups if needed.
At one school, the team found 88 children needed urgent dental treatment, while 82 out of 169 children were not registered with any dentist.
Volunteer and dental nurse Chloe Blake said at the surgery where she worked, they were constantly being asked if they could accept new patients.
“We did go through a stage when we were taking on patients – just children – but we just got inundated.”
Julia, who lives in Poringland, near Norwich, first heard her dental practice was closing in a news report.
She struggled to find another NHS dentist for her five-year-old children.