NHS dentists have received a letter from the UK Government advising that healthy people will only need a check-up every two years.
The letter says that this is in compliance with guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), which says dental teams should see patients for a check-up based on their health risk, which can be once every two years instead of every six months.
Rather than six-monthly check-ups, dentists will create a personal care plan with patients and advise them how often they need to come in. This will allow those who need more frequent care to be seen more regularly. Children and young people under 18 will continue to have six-monthly check-ups.
This is the first change to the NHS dental contract in 16 years.
This change to a long established routine comes as this week’s report on NHS staffing from Westminster’s cross-party health and social care committee said that the dental contract system was not fit for purpose and urgent reform was needed to boost recruitment and retention of dentists.
The local lack of access to dental care is becoming an increasingly worrying issue. Patients in Lytham St.Anne’s have reported being unable to access a NHS dentist, with some so desperate that they have resorted to DIY treatment.
Watchdog Healthwatch has said, ‘Access to NHS dentistry has been one of the most significant issues people have raised with us over the last 18 months. We know that many people are still struggling to get the dental treatment they need. We heard that restricted access had meant that some people were left in pain or with worsening oral health, and how wealthier people were able to access treatment by paying privately.’