GDP takes over NHS Twitter account

Earlier this month, general dental practitioner Jason Wong was invited to guest-edit the @NHS Twitter account for a week, and he used the opportunity to raise the profile of primary care dentistry within the national medical conversation.

Jason, who practises in Grantham and chairs his Local Dental Network, used his five-day takeover from 8 to 12 July to encourage discussion about key issues affecting the profession, including children’s oral health, treating older patients and holistic dentistry.

On his first day, he opened discussions on a range of topics and began by sharing the benefits of the morning team huddle that has become routine in his practice. This was followed by a discussion thread on the holistic care offered in general practice. He later raised the importance of collecting patient feedback, and NHS England’s ‘Friends and Family Test’.

Next on Jason’s agenda was children’s oral health. A lively discussion followed Jason’s tweet about encouraging parents to bring their children for a dental check from the age of one, so they can receive advice on brushing and diet, and establish good habits early. Several practitioners joined the thread to offer toothbrushing tips and to underline why early attendance at the dentist is vital, and this discussion was of particular interest to the public, with several parents contributing.

The conversation included the importance of labelling ‘DNAs’ as ‘Not Broughts’ in order to encourage consideration of the circumstances around a child’s lack of attendance at an appointment, and the exchanges also encompassed non-compliance, with a parent raising the point that her child is autistic and although he has been brought to his appointments he has been unable to go ahead with the clinical examination to date. Looking for signs of mouth cancer during a dental check, the HPV vaccine and the implementation of the Dental Contract Reform were also brought up.

As a member of the Faculty of General Dental Practice, and former winner of its Community Dentist of the Year award, Jason was also keen to raise awareness of the FGDP and its work in setting clinical standards in general dentistry. He posted a ‘shout out’ to the Faculty, provided a link to its guidance, and highlighted in particular its Dementia-Friendly Dentistry publication, which supports dentists in the planning of treatment and delivery of care for dementia sufferers.

The week’s dentistry takeover of the NHS Twitter account proved to be a great way to bring some of the profession’s agendas to the forefront of public debate, and highlight the importance and relevance of dentistry in relation to wider issues in general health.

Speaking about his week-long Twitter tenure, Jason commented:

"It was a real pleasure to curate the NHS Twitter handle for the week and try and share some aspects of the dental world to the rest of the NHS. Fitting it in a busy working week was a challenge but I would encourage any colleagues to take part in this if the opportunity arose. It was really rewarding to interact with such good dental people and organisations, and I was pleased to see that Seema Kennedy, the minister with responsibility for dentistry, retweeted my post on contract reform."

You can follow Jason on Twitter @JasonWong12.

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