Concerns over the future of NHS dentistry can be changed with the correct use of the dental team, according to the BSDHT.
A recent survey of dental professionals has found that confidence in the future NHS dentistry is worryingly low with almost half of respondents having major concerns regarding treatment and prevention balance, concerns were also raised about remuneration under new targets, career prospects and the ability to work within frameworks.
‘Within dentistry all professionals have a duty to provide the best possible service to patients that they can,’ Michaela ONeill, president of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT), said.
‘If dentists feel concerned about being able to provide this under an altered NHS framework then they should be encouraged to turn to dental hygienists and therapists who can play a vital role in providing NHS services, especially when it come to the balance between treatment and prevention.’
‘It is worrying that almost half of those surveyed felt that through NHS dentistry they will be unable to strike a balance between treatment and prevention, especially when the key role of dental hygienists and therapists is that of providing preventative measures to stop further treatment down the line.
‘By referring patients to dental hygienists and the dually qualified for preventative treatment at an early stage, then other members of the dental team are freed to work towards other aspects within the framework and providing effective services for patients.’
Hygienists and therapists confidence
Dental hygienists and therapists are now able to offer many services patients require, meaning the dentist’s chair is freed up for other treatments.
Clinically dental hygienists and those dually qualified in hygiene and therapy are able to carry out preventative periodontal treatments, applying topical fluorides and fissure sealants in order to reduce dental caries, and providing restorations to any part of an adult tooth as long as this does not require treatment to the nerve of the tooth.
‘What this survey suggests is that dental professionals feel changes to NHS dentistry will put further pressure on their practices, but I have firm confidence that dental hygienists and therapists will be able to relieve some of these pressures if utilised correctly, creating a more efficiently functioning practice,’ continued Ms ONeill.
‘Dental hygienists and therapists are especially keen to meet the uniquely challenging needs in the treatment of the elderly population, within residential care, and children.
‘If they are given the support they require to do this then they have the potential to positively impact upon the running of individual practices and change the professions attitude to NHS dentistry.’