Kirklees Healthwatch backs calls for patients with healthy teeth to only visit the dentist once every two years.
It believes this will free up space for patients who are in need of further care.
Kirklees has been condemned for its oral health, with charity Dentaid offering free checks and emergency treatment in the area.
‘Some people with healthy teeth are visiting dentists every six months when they don’t need to,’ Helen Wright from Healthwatch Kirklees, said.
‘It may be possible to increase the check up to nine, 12, 18 or even 24 months.
‘If we can change the system we could transfer thousands of appointments from checking adults with healthy teeth, to treating patients in pain.
‘We’re starting a campaign so everyone understands if and when it is possible to increase the check-up interval.
‘We’ve produced leaflets, a film and are getting the word out through local organisations, websites and social media.
‘The message is, if you have a healthy mouth and teeth, clean your teeth well with fluoride toothpaste and have a healthy lifestyle, adults may not need to have a check-up every six months.
‘We want people to talk to their dentist – to ask if they can go from six to 12 months between visits.’
Moving to two-year check-ups
A move to two-year check-ups has been gathering momentum after being proposed recently in Scotland’s Oral Health Improvement Plan.
In June the NHS acknowledged the crisis in Kirklees and promised hundreds of extra NHS places in the area.
But the shortage of NHS dental appointments has forced the borough to look for alternative options.
‘Progress of the Healthwatch initiative to tackle perception and attitudes that surround the outdated model of a one-size-fits-all six-month dental check-up, continues apace,’ Sara Hurley, chief dental officer for England, said.
‘In exploring public attitudes and supporting professional adherence to dental recall, the prospect of targeting access to those most in need and improving oral health is readily achievable.’
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