A LACK of patients to treat is causing dental students to fall behind in their studies.

The shortage of patients taking advantage of free treatment has left some ­students at Glasgow Dental School and Hospital.

It comes at a time when Glasgow has one of the worst dental health records in Scotland.

The dental school, on Sauchiehall Street, provides teaching for students from Glasgow University.

The free procedures, ­including fillings or root ­canal treatments, constitute a certain number of points on the system.

Without these procedures, students could find themselves without enough points to graduate.

A third year dental ­student, who wished to ­remain anonymous, said: "At the end of fifth year if you haven't completed enough procedures and therefore gained enough ReCAF points you cannot qualify as a professional dentist.

"There is nothing you can do about this if you don't have patients, and people at times don't have enough to work on.

"I think people in Glasgow should be made more aware of the free dental care we provide at the school. It benefits them and us. "

The dental school says it advertises for patients to ­receive free treatment from students around once a year.

However, students do not feel this is providing enough patients.

A fifth year dental student, who also wished to remain anonymous, said: "I found myself in this ­situation when I had to carry out root canal treatment on a patient and unfortunately there weren't any available patients needing it performed.

"If given enough notice, patients can be sourced by the school for students.

"However, it seems strange that patients aren't queuing out the door for free health care, especially given the state of Glasgow's oral health records."

According to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, parts of Glasgow have some of the worst dental records in Europe.

Arshad Ali, clinical ­director and managing director at The Scottish Centre for ­Excellence in Dentistry said: "Unfortunately, Greater Glasgow and Clyde has one of the highest rates of smokers and poorest quality diet amongst adults, both of which are closely linked to poor oral health.

"Therefore, regular check-ups and education are essential to help keep teeth as long as possible, as 11% of the adult population in Scotland have no natural teeth remaining."

The dental school provides a number of free treatments by students who are supervised during procedures by qualified dental clinicians.

A spokesman from ­Glasgow University said: "People are able to go on to the University of Glasgow website where they can find more information about signing up for free treatment with our dental students."

Call Glasgow Dental School and Hospital on 0141 211 9600 for information.