HEALTH bosses have launched a dental ‘voucher’ scheme to encourage people to get their teeth checked.

It comes after some patients said the reason they did not go to a dentist was because it was too expensive.

Throughout March, people can apply for a voucher worth £17.50 for a free check-up at a local NHS dentist.

Nicky Wadely is deputy head of Primary Care Contracted Services at NHS Oxfordshire, which is running the programme.

She said the trust carried out research which showed that young adults between 18 and 30 were put off going to the dentist until they had problems with their teeth because they thought it was too expensive.

Ms Wadely said: “This age group typically have to decide what to spend limited funds on. This is about encouraging people to get a check-up before they experience problems.”

Last month a new £700,000 dentist was opened in Cowley.

The Westbridge Dental Practice replaced the existing dentist in Templars Square, and will serve 22,000 residents.

In 2006 in Oxfordshire there were 298 NHS dentists, with 49.5 per cent of the population (299,592) being seen at least once by an NHS dentist in the previous 24 months.

In 2011 the number of Oxfordshire NHS dentists had risen to 354 in Oxfordshire, and 53 per cent of the population had seen an NHS dentist in the last 24 months in Oxfordshire – 331,699 people.

NHS Oxfordshire bid for the money from central Government, and has been given about £200,000 to run the scheme across the county and Buckinghamshire.

Adults can apply for a voucher by contacting 01865 337030 or by emailing their details to to check their eligibility. The voucher must be used before the end of September 2012.