New Dental Contract to Expand after Successful Pilot Reduces Tooth Decay

  • New prevention-focused approach to providing NHS dental care has led to improvements in oral health and has seen patients take greater control of their own dental care
  • Up to 50 practices will be selected to join the 73 currently testing the new contract which incentivises dentists to offer comprehensive oral health assessments and self-care plans
  • The scheme could be rolled out nationally from April 2020 if approach can be shown to benefit patients, the NHS and dental practices

Children and adults have been empowered to take better care of their teeth after a number of dental surgeries across England adopted a new prevention-focused approach to oral hygiene.

More than 70 high street dental practices saw a reduction in tooth decay after testing the new approach which incentivises dentists to offer patients comprehensive oral health assessments and self-care plans on top of traditional treatments.

In the first year of piloting the new system, dentists reported that 90% of patients had reduced or maintained levels of tooth decay, 80% had reduced or maintained levels of gum disease and 97% of patients said they were satisfied with the dental care they received.

Up to 50 practices will be recruited into the expanded programme to further assess the benefits to patients, the NHS and dental practices before a decision to roll-out the contract nationally will be made.

Health Minister Steve Brine said:

“The Government has made great progress in improving the oral health of patients and tooth decay among children continues to decrease - but there is more we can do.

“Our new proposed NHS dental contract focusses on prevention and quality of care and will be thoroughly tested to ensure it is financially sustainable for the NHS, patients and dentists.”

The new practices are currently being selected and will go live from October 2018 and January 2019.

Chief Dental Officer Sarah Hurley said:

The announcement of up to 50 more prototype practices is an important step in developing the NHS dental service in this its 70th year.

“I welcome it and hope that further refinement and testing with the profession will lead us to a model that enables dentists and their teams to play their full part in the delivery of integrated care and further improvement of oral and general health.” 


Editors Notes

Notes to editors

  • The recently published evaluation report from the first full year of testing the prototype approach recommended that a further cohort of dental practices should be recruited into the programme. The report can be found here: 
  • The new prototypes will be split into two cohorts going live from October 2018 and January 2019.
  • The prototype approach will be subject to further evaluation and only if the new proposed dental contract is shown to work for patients, practices and the NHS will national roll-out be considered from April 2020.
  • A full list of the current dental prototypes can be found here:
  • The existing 73 new ‘dental prototypes’ are continuing to test the new approach, but with a new remuneration system added which supports dentists carrying out preventative work. It is based partly on treatment delivered (as now) and partly on capitation



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The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) is a nationally recognised body that represents over 4,000 Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists across the UK and beyond.

BSDHT maintain an on-going dialogue with the General Dental Council (GDC), the Departments of Health and all of the main groups representing dental care professionals, and attends meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry, bringing dental hygiene and therapy to the attention of government ministers and MP’s.

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