Polishing of teeth

Routine scaling and polishing of teeth should stop as the NHS dental budget would better spent elsewhere; experts warn. The NHS dental budget is not in the most efficient way and must to avoid oral health inequality and meet patients’ needs. Presenting their findings today at a policy briefing in London, the team says public money used for NHS dentistry in England is based on historical demands rather than evolving with the needs of patients.
Their study reveals that funds should much more focused on the prevention of decay and gum disease and more accessible services. The findings include opening new NHS high street practices; greater provision of dentistry in care homes, allowing direct booking of dental appointments from the NHS helpline; having more oral health measures built into contracts for local authority services.

High street dentistry

The best care possible. “their RAINDROP project shows much of the dental budget; is spent on high street dentistry but significant amounts are also spent on specialist oral surgery and orthodontic services; with very little spend on oral disease prevention.
They estimate the current NHS dentistry budget includes only a tiny provision for prevention of oral disease, less than 5%, and this is not enough. They have recommended a specific set of services they would like to see new investment in and a set of services that should have funding reduced to allow this investment.”

NHS dental budget

Therefore RAINDROP project was set up to identify a better system for making decisions around changing how the NHS dental budget is spent; trying to satisfy multiple criteria, including determining public views in a way that represented the whole of society. A panel of patient representatives, dental network chairs; dental lead commissioners, dental public health consultants, and an academic assessed the current funding model and services; exploring more effective models of care.

But the funding arrangements often maintain historic allocations, partly due to lack of resources to review current allocations. Each panel member scored a variety of dental services such as examinations, oral surgery, out of hours, restorative and orthodontics to identify the changes needed to dental health budgets. So the team has presented their findings to the Office of the Chief Dental Officer and others at NHS England; who will now consider the resource allocation recommendations.

Ongoing and emerging processes

“Major changes, such as those they have recommended; are often difficult to implement at a national level. “It may that any changes need to make as part of ongoing and emerging processes; such as dental contract reform which is currently for roll out next year.
In addition, at the regional level; opportunities may present which would allow implementation of parts of our recommendations. The focus is on improvements for the whole population, so individual patients may see different levels of benefit. The sooner changes are made, the sooner the potential benefits can realized.” The RAINDROP team is now embarking on a series of engagements; with key stakeholders to explain and explore the project and its findings.