Published on February 2, 2012

NHS dentistry cash boost to increase access, but is this the answer to a nation of healthy teeth?

Yesterday, Andrew Lansley, UK Health Secretary announced a proposed £28 million boost to increase access to NHS dentists. The money will be spent on expanding local services such as more available appointments and care for people who cannot travel to a dentist. This move supports the Government’s drive to improve oral health in the UK, coupled with a further suggestion recommended in the Health and Social Care Bill, to encourage all dental professionals to discuss patients’ lifestyles with them. As Dr Nigel Carter suggests:

“If the healthcare profession and particularly the dental profession discussed with their patients how their oral health could be improved, I firmly believe we would see the number of developing dental diseases fall across a period of time”.

As many of us are aware, a patient’s dietary, drinking, smoking and exercise habits can affect their oral health. Under the government’s proposals, dental teams will be encouraged to build up a rapport with patients and suggest adaptations to lifestyle choices, for example to quit smoking. Government officials, with the support of industry experts, suggest dental professionals should aim to capture the prime opportunity, a regular check-up, to suggest such changes as this could potentially lead to fewer oral health problems in the future. The key word here is prevention, by patients’ altering their dietary habits, i.e. less acidic food and drink, they are less likely to develop problems such as, acid erosion.

Despite the government recognising the need for further funding and dentistry support for patients, for suggested measures to be put in place dentists are required to spend more time with each patient, therefore further funding is required. So maybe funding is the solution to the improvement of UK oral health or can dentist-patient rapport be enough to succeed?


Tell us what you think can help improve the nation’s oral health and why? Join in the conversation by tweeting us @stockdalemartin

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