Some patients in Wales are going on 90-mile round trips to see an NHS dentist, figures show.
British Dental Association (BDA) Wales, which analysed data from NHS Direct, said patients across Wales are now facing a postcode lottery of care.
Residents in Aberystwyth face a 90-mile round trip, new patients in Newtown face 80-mile journeys and those in the Welsh capital Cardiff face a nearly 30-mile trek.
BDA analysis from last year showed that only 15% of NHS practices are taking new adult NHS patients, with just 28% accepting new child patients.
Freedom of information requests suggest £20m has been lost from local NHS dental services in the last three years, where practitioners are unable to meet the tough targets set by government in their contracts, BDA Wales said.
It added that ministers are advocating modest tweaks to the current target-driven NHS contract, which effectively caps patient numbers, rather than root and branch reform.
Official data shows morale in the profession has fallen to its lowest levels since 2000 and more than half of dentists considering leaving the profession.
Tom Bysouth, chair of the BDA’s Welsh General Dental Practice Committee, said the latest figures are the “inevitable result of a failed system, where officials bank on dentists missing their targets just so they can plug holes in other budgets”.
He argued Wales needs a model that puts patient care ahead of tick boxes and targets.