Patients needing complex dental work might have to wait longer under new NHS targets, dentists warn.
The British Dental Association (BDA) fears NHS England will impose penalties on practices that fail to reach 45% of their normal activity level, after negotiations broke down.
And practices may have to prioritise routine check-ups over more time-consuming treatments.
An NHS official said: "The NHS and the government are working to determine a safe and reasonable contractual arrangement with dentists, which recognises the constraints on practices and the need to maximise access for patients to see their dentist."
The waiting list for NHS dentistry could reach eight million by New Year's Eve, according to the Association of Dental Groups.
Dave Cottam, who chairs the BDA's General Dental Practice Committee, said: "This move will actively undermine patient care.
"Ministers are instructing dentists to churn through routine appointments against the clock, rather than deal with a huge backlog of urgent cases. Dentists wanting to do the right thing by their patients will now be punished for it."
Source: BBC News, 16 December 2020