Half (50.7%) of adults in England saw an NHS dentist in the last two years, NHS Digital statistics show.
The total number, 22 million, is a drop of 98,445 since 2017.
There are big regional differences too, with 56.1% of adults in the north of England having seen an NHS dentist, compared with 44.3% in London.
‘The number of dentists providing NHS services continues to increase,’ an NHS spokesperson said.
‘Most importantly for our patients, when people need to get an NHS dentist appointment they are almost always able to get one.
‘Nine times out of 10, their experience is positive.’
Number of dentists increasing
Scale and polish was the most common form of adult treatment, with 12.7 million performed, 45.7% of all treatments.
Fluoride varnish was the most common form of treatment for children, with 5.5 million performed.
The number of dentists performing NHS dentistry increased by 1.3% to 24,308.
Courses of treatment
The total number of courses of treatment delivered in 2017/18 dropped by 1.8% to 711,580.
This equated to 83.2 million units of dental activity, with band one treatments being the most common.
Paying adults made up the majority of courses of treatment (53.5%) followed by children (29.1%) and then non-paying adults (17.4%).
‘Sadly the Government has shown no interest in getting hard to reach families to attend, when prevention could save our NHS millions,’ the BDA’s chair of General Dental Practice, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, said.
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Read more: dentistry.co.uk