More than 90 dental pilots looking at new preventive approaches to oral health have been extended until March 2015.
How the pilots work…
• The dental pilots put a firmer focus on prevention and avoiding dental problems before they arise, as well as treating existing disease
• The practices are testing out a different approach to care with a greater emphasis on prevention, where dentists follow an evidence-based approach and patients are given a personalised care plan to help improve their dental health in the long term
• The pilots are also looking at how dentists can be paid on the basis of patients’ good oral health not just the number of treatments they carry out
• The pilot programme will help reshape the reform of the dental system, which is under development and will ensure prevention and better oral health outcomes for everyone.
Key findings so far…
• The Evidence and Learning report published today (7 February 2014) presents two years of learning from the NHS dental pilots
• The new preventive approach is showing good clinical results. Patients are assessed as having low, moderate or high risk of future disease; and across the pilots the percentage of patients classified as high risk is reducing as dentists help patients take better care of their teeth and gums
• As well as improving the oral health of patients, the new approach has to work operationally for dental practices and the NHS
• The focus over the next year will be to further refine the preventive approach, building on the learning to date and understand how it can be effectively put to wider use.
Signs of improvement
Barry Cockcroft, chief dental officer, said: ‘The oral health of the nation has been improving year on year, with some of the lowest tooth decay rates in the world. Our dental pilots have been exploring how dentists can work with patients to create personalised care plans, helping to avoid dental problems before they arise.
‘The pilots are also playing a vital role in overhauling the dental contract, by looking at how we can shift dental care to a more preventative approach, paying dentists for good oral health rather than number of procedures they do. This is why we have extended the dental pilots for another year, to make sure these new methods are well tested before being shared across the rest of the country.’
Jimmy Steele, head of Newcastle University Dental School and author of the Evidence and Learning report said: ‘The dental pilots have been testing new preventive approaches to oral health and alternative ways for dentists to be paid for their work.
‘This Learning and Evidence report shows a range of findings, from the operation and clinical impact of a new pathway, to the effect on attendance and patient access. It has identified what has worked and what has not and, more importantly, has identified the important next steps towards successful reform’
• Over the last two years more than 29.8 million people were seen by an NHS dentist
• The most recent data shows that 70% of five-year-old children were totally free of tooth decay
• The Adult Dental Health Survey shows that the percentage of adults with no natural teeth has reduced from 28% in 1978 to 6% in 2009.