Polish dentists have bridged a shortage of NHS provision in the rural West Midlands, and saved the taxpayer an estimated £1 million a year.
At least 37 of the region's 2,250 NHS dentists are Polish, reflecting a national surge in the numbers of health service practitioners trained abroad.
According to new figures yesterday, nearly half the 2,200 new NHS dentists last year trained abroad - the highest proportion for a decade - and 17 per cent were Polish.
Foreign dentists made up over a fifth of the 21,111 national practitioners in the 12 months to the end of March.
They were recruited in an eight-week campaign in Poland in 2005.
The Poles started on a salaries of £50,000, compared with an estimated £80,000 for an experienced British counterpart.
Alan McMichael, consultant in dental public health for the NHS in Worcestershire, said their recruitment speedily alleviated a crippling shortage.
Mr McMichael visited Warsaw to recruit seven dentists for Worcestershire, and has been involved in training them, and said their skills were equal to British dentists.
"As soon as you put them in a surgery despite the different accent you can tell they are completely at home," he said. "They are clearly dentists, just like I am, I don't regard them a different species.
"I don't think we could have expanded our capacity of NHS provision anything like as quickly if we had not recruited them."
He said while being able to work to higher standards in Britain was cited as an attraction, money was a factor.
"They are very wide-eyed when they see how Britons live, with luxury goods all round them. In Warsaw there is a difference. It's not particularly cheap in the UK but if you wanted to buy a TV there it would cost a month's salary, whereas in the UK you wouldn't think twice about it." "I was a little concerned they would not think the money enough," he said. "Through Polish eyes it is by no means poverty. They are not costing quite the same to pay, because they are not expected to fly as soon as they start, but they should be making the same as British dentists in time."
The British Dental Association insisted the NHS should not rely on overseas staff, and stressed the figures were from before a controversial new contract was brought in in April.
The contract specified how NHS dentists should charge patients and set performance targets, but was rejected by one in ten.
The BDA's chief executive Peter Ward said: "The figures published don't tell the full story with many patients still struggling to find a dentist.
"We welcome dentists from overseas, but this is only a short term solution to the shortage of dentists caused by poor workforce planning in the past.
"We must also wait to see the impact of the new NHS contract, given that one in ten of the new contracts were rejected by dentists and around one in four are in dispute."