A brighter outlook: New NICE guidelines support improvements in UK dentistry provision

January 5th, 2016

It has long been acknowledged that having good oral health is fundamental to our overall sense of health and wellbeing. Poor oral health can have a huge impact on how we function in our day to day lives, affecting how we eat and speak, and altering our levels of confidence, as well as having the potential to cause significant amounts of pain and discomfort. Over recent years, oral health has dramatically improved in the UK. However, there are still major variances in oral health in communities across the UK.

This December National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have published a new set of guidelines which aim to support general dentist practice teams in the UK. It is hoped that these guidelines will address some of these variances, and give everyone in the UK access to good quality advice and information. The guidelines give advice on how dentists can convey information about:

  • Oral hygiene and the use of fluoride
  • Lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking/use of tobacco and alcohol intake

The guidelines cover the advice that is given to patients by dentists and dental care professionals, and how dental teams can adopt a more ‘patient-centred’ approach. At Ock Street Clinic we have been meeting these new guidelines for many years already.  Our patients will recognise, for example, that we always ask about alcohol and tobacco use, and we always recommend fluoride toothpaste and have samples available.

These new guidelines are welcomed by the British Dental Health Foundation who recognise the shift towards giving patients the increased information and support needed to make an informed decision about their dental care. By making advice and information available to patients in a more clear and concise manner, and presenting it in an easier to understand format, patients will be much better equipped to make decisions about their treatment, as well as undertaking lifestyle changes to prevent oral health problems.

Dr Ben Atkins, who is a member of the British Dental Health Foundation as both a Trustee and a dentist, was part of the committee that created the NICE guidelines. Dr Atkins has highlighted that the guidelines have been developed “with the patient firmly in mind” to help “ensure patients who are using the services are actively involved in discussions and able to make informed decisions about their care”.

The British Dental Health Foundation are optimistic that the guidelines will promote a more preventive approach being taken, which should help stop some problems before they even exist. This is good news for all of us and should lead to less pain and discomfort due to dental problems, and therefore a better overall sense of wellbeing.

If you’d like to know more, or read the full NICE guidelines, click here. Alternatively you can visit the British Dental Health Foundation website for further reflections on what the new guidelines could mean for British dentistry.

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