IT'S A shame we are short of dentists in south Cumbria, but you do have to keep using an existing arrangement to retain the service with NHS dentists.

I have been very fortunate in having an excellent NHS dentist in Ambleside for the past 12 years. I have needed very little treatment apart from a scrape and polish every six months or so.

Immediately prior to that after retiring from Merseyside I struggled and went first privately in Morecambe, and then to a mediocre NHS service elsewhere.

I am convinced that cleaning my teeth for the past 40 years with cheap fluoride toothpaste after each of three meals per day and avoiding snacking particularly on sweetened food and drink, has enabled me to survive with such little recent treatment.

When I worked in London in the 60s to 80s and subsequently in Liverpool I had a lot of fillings, about which I was suspicious and I subsequently regarded as having been mostly unnecessary, but dentists in big cities are tempted to earn as much as they can.

I had this view confirmed by a close friend dentist, who worked for a private dental partner, who advised her that she could make a lot of money if she worked hard, doing unnecessary treatment.

I advised my children to look after their teeth as I do, and neither of them has required any significant treatment. I had a friend my age who did as I do, but never went to a dentist and had no fillings up to the age of 60 when I last saw him.

Politicians need to ensure that dentists are adequately rewarded without being tempted to do unnecessary work.

So instead of our MP whingeing about the scarcity of NHS dentists, perhaps we should be better advised on how to look after our teeth and have rewards for dentists which encourage them to work ethically in Cumbria (and elsewhere) even if they find that with better personal individual care people need less treatment.

P. Bradley