The latest figures have revealed that less than half of children in the South West have seen an NHS dentist in the past year, with just over a third of adults seeing one in the past two years.
The figures show a decline since 2018 when 60.5% of children and 51% of adults had seen an NHS dentist.
The NHS advises that children under 18 should see a dentist at least once a year.
These findings are part of a research study conducted by the House of Commons Library and commissioned by the Liberal Democrats.
The study also revealed an increase in the number of patients per dentist, rising from 2,002 patients per dentist to 2,192 since 2016, a 9.5% increase.
A poll commissioned by the Liberal Democrats last year showed that one in five people who could not secure an NHS dental appointment in the past year had resorted to DIY dentistry.
As of 24th April, NHS Patient Charges for Dentistry in England increased by 8.5%.
Polling conducted by YouGov on behalf of the British Dental Association revealed that one in four adults in England have already postponed or avoided necessary dental care due to the cost.
This recent increase means that NHS bridges, crowns or dentures now cost £306.80 in England, compared to £203.00 in Wales.
In response to the findings, the Liberal Democrats are calling for a dental healthcare rescue plan that would include spending the estimated £400 million of funding for NHS dental services that went unspent this year to increase the number of appointments.
They also want to reform the NHS dental contract, create more resources for mobile dental units to visit schools, community centres, and care homes, and remove VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, commented: “Hiking up charges for NHS dental appointments at a time when people are struggling to pay the bills shows just how out of touch this Conservative government is.
“It is heartbreaking that people are being left waiting in pain for months or even years for the dental care they need.
“Many are being forced to shell out thousands of pounds on private dental care, while some are even turning to DIY dentistry in desperation.
“This Conservative government has been asleep at the wheel for years and allowed this dental crisis to get worse.
“We need to see action now to make sure everyone can see a dentist on the NHS when they need to.
“That must start with investing the cash earmarked for NHS dentistry that has scandalously gone unspent, and reforming the broken system that has driven dentists away from offering NHS appointments.”