To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research has been done into the long term effects of people being unable to access non-urgent oral health services due to a shortage of dentists willing to treat NHS patients; and if he will make a statement. 
I refer the hon. Member to the response given to him by the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Lammy) on 11 June 2003, Official Report, column 935W, regarding the research into the long-term effects of people being unable to access non-urgent oral health services.The Government recognises that access to routine dental treatment can be difficult in some areas of the country. This is despite a steady increase in the number of dentists seeing national health service patients between 1997 and 2001 and an increase in the number of courses of treatment completed under NHS arrangements by two million between 1996–97 and 2001–02. Currently, around 60 per cent. of all general practice dentists offer 90 per cent. or more NHS care. Some 25 per cent. of all general practice dentists offer NHS care exclusively. Around 90 per cent. of callers to NHS Direct seeking routine dental treatment are put in touch with a dentist within locally set and nationally benchmarked distance standards.The Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill proposes the local commissioning of primary dental services by primary care trusts. It is the intention of the Bill that this will better match the provision of NHS dentistry with local oral health needs.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health to what extent NHS dentists are expected to carry out a soft tissue examination; how long this procedure takes; and if he will make a statement. 
There are three types of examination carried out in the general dental service. These are set out in the statement of dental remuneration (SDR) as follows:
Clinical examination, advice, charting (including monitoring of periodontal status) and report.
Extensive clinical examination, advice, charting (including charting of periodontal status) and report.
Each of these procedures requires an increasing level of examination of soft tissues. The SDR can be found on the Department's website at www.doh.gov.uk/sdr.The time taken for these procedures will vary according to individual patients' needs.Full case assessment (including full charting and report of periodontal status), treatment planning and report.