The NHS has been accused of letting down patients in pain by shutting London's last community-based A&E-style service for people needing emergency dental treatment.
NHS England's closure of the "urgent dental service" in Kentish Town will leave the capital's 8.7 million residents with only two busy hospitals to go to with teeth problems.
Dentists have warned that it will force more patients to seek help at overcrowded GP surgeries and A&E units. The disappearance is the latest loss of walk-in services across England for people with emergencies such as a broken tooth or abscess.
NHS England said the service would shut on 31 March, even though 5,451 people used it last year and patients come from all over London to get treatment. People should in future call the NHS111 helpline or seek an appointment with their regular dentist, they said.
"Access to emergency dental care is increasingly a postcode lottery. Inadequate provision is simply piling more pressure on GPs and A&Es that are not equipped to provide dental treatment.
"It's absurd that NHS111 operators are asking patients to do ring-rounds of dental surgeries looking for a free slot at short notice" said Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen of the British Dental Association.
The BDA is urging the NHS to tackle the growing shortage of emergency dental services by arranging for high-street dentists to always have a certain number of emergency appointments available.
The dental association recently estimated that 135,000 dental patients a year end up attending A&E because they cannot easily gain access to care for a sudden problem. A further 600,000 seek treatment from a GP, adding to the pressure on family doctor services, it believes.
From April, Londoners needing urgent dental care will have only two options: specialist clinics at King's College Hospital and Guy's Hospital, both in south London, though the Guy's service limits treatment to 55 patients a day and those needing care must be there as early as 7.30am to secure an appointment.
Source: The Guardian