According to a recent statement made by a top UK dentist, dental check-ups every six months aren’t required.
Patients have to challenge dentists who insist they return for dental check-ups every six months, the country’s most senior dentist has urged – amid warnings that dental treatment is becoming a “rich man’s hobby”.The dentist in question is Dr Sara Hurley. She also compared dentists to mechanics and said patients should not “blindly adhere” to instructions to come back frequently. Current guidelines say that time between dental check-ups should depend on the state of a patient’s teeth, with intervals of up to two years for those in good oral health. But the chief dental officer for England said too many dentists are failing to stick to this and seeing patients more regularly. Private check-ups can cost up to £120, while NHS visits are £19.70.
Furthermore, she went on to say:
“It’s down to patients to say ‘why do I need to come back in six months?'” she said, suggesting patients should be less trusting if they were told to keep coming back.
“If you go to have your car MOT, and he says, come back in six months, do you blindly adhere to that advice?”
Dental check-ups have a price
Around 50% of adults visit a dentist every six months, with almost 40% paying for a private dentist. While she was in attendance at the NHS Expo conference in Manchester, Dr Hurley was challenged about the costs of dental visits and the money being made by dentists. Roy Lilley also agreed with hair saying:
“Dentistry has become a rich man’s hobby,”
“It has gone off the high street into lavish surroundings.”
“What Nice (the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) has actually indicated is that one size doesn’t fit all,”
“You should get a bespoke piece of advice based on your lifestyle, your experience of disease, and your dentists might say ‘you know, I only need to see you every 24 months’.”
“You don’t see your GP every six months so why would you see your dentist?”
Dentists will launch a national campaign next year. Smile4Life is about encouraging the public to treat dental health as a life long issue. One of the messages will be that six-month dental check-ups are often not necessary. The campaign is also set to encourage more use of fluoride varnishes in schools, and free toothbrushes for children.
Dr Hurley went on to discuss dental check-ups further, saying:
“If you could persuade them that they only need to come every 12 months then there are a group of patients who are desperate for access who could come in.”
“Oral health in the UK has improved hugely since the 1960s and 1970s, particularly with the introduction of fluoride toothpaste,”
“Many of the population with improved oral health don’t need to see their dentist every six months. We have move into a new era of oral health with some but not all of the population,”
She also claims that those who maintain good oral health may only need dental check-ups every two years. There is a new era now of better oral health and those with poorer oral health can take easy steps to change that. For those with active dental decay, which includes one in three children, far more regular visits were needed. Around 6 to 12 months would be ideal. This also goes for those with fillings or other restorations.
Nigel Carter, chief executive of Oral Health Foundation, said dentists felt under pressure from some patients to have a six-month recall.
“The patients are so used to that six-month recall that it gives them comfort,” he said. “It’s very difficult for them [dentists] to resist pressure from patients.”
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