Dentists need to educate patients in Nottingham about the importance of keeping teeth healthy.
That’s the verdict of a review of access to dental care in the city, carried out between January and September this year.
It’s also urging dentists to make existing services easier to access and encourage people to visit the dentist more often.
The review looked at the oral health of people in Nottingham, the availability and quality of NHS dentistry services and what stops people visiting the dentist.
It was carried out by Health and Adult Social Care scrutiny councillors, with the support of NHS Nottingham City, the Primary Care Trust, and a member of the City’s Local Involvement Network (LINk).
One of the main obstacles is that people believe there is a lack of NHS dentists, although the review found there are no waiting lists in Nottingham and there are plenty of dentists accepting new NHS patients.
The report says: ‘There are no waiting lists for NHS dentists in Nottingham – there are plenty of dentists with space for patients.’
Its recommendations include providing more information about who qualifies for free treatment.
Other suggestions to improve take-up include text and email reminders of appointments.
Nottingham’s City Smiles programme – aimed at promoting better oral health – has seen thousands of packs with toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss given to pregnant mothers and young parents. The review suggests this needs to be extended to adults.
The review also recommended that dentists should advertise if they will deal with a phobia of dentists sympathetically.
Councillor Ginny Klein, chair of the scrutiny committee, said: ‘Nottingham does not have a good record on oral health. We wanted to find out what stops people from going to the dentist and work out how we can encourage them to take care of their mouths and teeth.
‘We were impressed with the good work, commitment and support from NHS Nottingham City. It was also interesting to discover that contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of dentists with space for NHS patients.
‘But there are areas for improvement and we’ve made a series of recommendations which we hope will serve as a helpful guide towards significantly improving Nottingham’s oral health in the coming years.’
Dawn Smith, director of Delivery and Performance, NHS Nottingham City, said: ‘This review has been a good example of partnership working and we welcome the recommendations. We have just completed a 12 week public consultation on proposals to improve access to dental services by providing additional services in Bulwell and Bilborough and in various locations using a mobile service. We will be using the learnings from this review and the public consultation to make the changes needed to help improve oral health across Nottingham.’