Preventative treatments are the key to NHS dentistry improvements

Preventative treatments, which are offered by dental hygienists and therapists, are the most popular treatments provided to both adults and children in England, according to new NHS statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre1 (HSCIC).

The extensive annual report into NHS dental care in England found that the most frequent clinical treatment delivered to adults is a Scale and Polish, accounting for 45.2 per cent of all treatments. The most frequent clinical treatment for children was Fluoride Varnish Treatments, with 3.4 million courses of treatments (CoT), a 24.6 per cent increase from the last period. Both of these treatments are provided by dental hygienists and therapists.

Together these treatments accounted for more than 16 million CoT’s in the 24 month period to 30 June 2015, emphasising the vital role in which preventative treatment, and therefore dental hygienists and therapists, continue to play in maintaining the nations dental health.

President of the British Society of Dental Hygiene & Therapy (BSDHT) Michaela ONeill highlighted the increased role that dental hygienists and therapists are now playing within NHS dental practice; “With more than 16 million patients having preventative treatments on the NHS dental hygienists and therapists have seen their roles take centre stage in helping to shape the current state of dental care in England.

“We as therapists and hygienists are eager to continue to promote the importance of preventative treatments. This recent report has also worryingly shown that for the first time since 2013 people who have visited an NHS dentist has fallen. This needs to be addressed to help improve the state of the nation’s dental health.

“We are especially keen to address the state of children’s dental health, where shockingly almost one in ten NHS treatments includes tooth extraction. A very serious and highly traumatic experience for them no doubt.”

A total of 30 million patients, 55.7 per cent of the total population visited an NHS dentist in this period, with the North of England continuing to deliver the most courses of treatments (CoT) nationally with 12.8 million, a 32 per cent share of the total.

This report covers dental activity carried out by ‘high street dentists’ under NHS contract and does not take into account private treatments.

“We believe hygienists and those dually qualified will play a continuingly important role in shaping the future of dental care in the UK,” continued Ms ONeill.

“Preventative and maintenance treatments are evidently the key to driving the NHS forward and we feel that there can be even more changes which will help to streamline NHS dentistry.

“Changing the contract under which hygienists and the dually qualified operate to allow them to open CoT’s will prove to be a highly time and cost effective measure. This measure will ensure that some, dentistry treatments such as maintenance periodontal needs will not have to be initiated by a dentist, freeing up their time and speeding up the process for everyone including the patient.”

Editors Notes



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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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