Another West Midlands NHS dental practice made a desperate appeal for patients yesterday - even as national figures revealed millions of people had not seen a dentist for more than two years because they could not find a surgery to take them.
The Oasis Dental Centre in Sutton Coldfield, which has a capacity of about 9,000 patients, was set up in December with help from the NHS.
But a month later, it has signed up only 3,000, and has had to throw open its doors to the whole city and launch a marketing campaign in an effort to attract patients.
The centre's appeal comes just days after another surgery - the Oldbury Dental Centre in Sandwell - told The Birmingham Post it needed another 3,000 patients to fill its books, and it could not understand why more people had not signed up.
A poll released by the Citizens' Advice Bureau yesterday found more than one in three people in England and Wales had not visited a dentist since April 2006.
The most common reason given was the lack of NHS facilities available, with 31 per cent of people saying they could not find an NHS surgery to take them.
The CAB said its findings indicated about 7.4 million people had tried and failed to see an NHS dentist, with about 4.7 million being forced into private care instead and 2.7 million going without treatment altogether.
Chief executive David Harker said: "These figures show the scale of the lack of access to NHS dentistry, reflecting the evidence which bureaux across England and Wales have been reporting ever since the early 90s.
"People on low incomes are particularly affected as private treatment is just not an option."
But Emma Carlton, the practice manager at the Oasis Dental Centre said she had not seen the CAB's claims reflected in Birmingham.
"When I heard about the news I was laughing to myself," she said. "We are actually having to market the centre to try to recruit patients - we haven't got any idea why it's happening.
"We were given funding by the NHS to open a practice in Sutton Coldfield, with the assumption that there were hundreds of thousands of people here that wanted an NHS service.
"But now we're taking applications from absolutely any area of Birmingham. If they are willing to take us we want them to sign up."
On Tuesday, Dr Skheeta Vora of the Oldbury Dental Centre said she had no idea why the state-of-the-art centre had attracted just 750 patients - thousands shy of its expected total.
She said this meant not enough people in the area were receiving the treatment they needed, and the centre might find it difficult to fulfil its contract with the NHS.
Both Dr Vora and Mrs Carlton said the only explanation they could think of for the lack of interest from potential patients was that they did not know about the existence of the surgeries.
The CAB said people were still not being given the NHS dental services they needed, and welcomed a Government announcement of an 11 per cent increase in funding.
Health Minister Ann Keen said she would be holding PCTs to account to make sure they gave patients the care they needed.
And she pointed out 80 per cent of trusts had dedicated helplines for those struggling to find a local dentist, and anyone needing urgent dental care would receive help.
To sign up for the Oasis Dental Centre contact 0121 321 2094 or long on to www.oasisdentalcare.com. ..SUPL: