Dentists have always aimed to be more proactive than reactive when it comes to treating patients’ oral health issues. What this means is that it is better to prevent someone from ever contracting tooth decay than it is to wait until they do and then treat it really well. While excellent treatment is a must, preventative measures are much better for patients.
This has recently been echoed by the NHS, which has extended over 90 dental pilots until March 2015. All of these focused on preventative measures, and have started to see excellent levels of success.
Many of these pilots are based around giving patients a personalised dental health care plan to help them look after their oral health. This can even be incorporated into dental marketing materials, making it beneficial for both the patient and the practice.
Other pilots include a new type of performance-related pay, to reward dentists based on the quality of their patients’ oral health. This would, in theory, improve overall dental care as dentists strive to make sure their patients’ teeth are as healthy as possible.
Barry Cockcroft, chief dental officer, said: “The pilots are playing a vital role in overhauling the dental contract, by looking at how we can shift dental care to a more preventative approach and paying dentists for good oral health rather than the number of procedures they do.”
Mr Cockcroft commented on the reasoning behind extending the pilot schemes for another year, saying it enabled the Department of Health “to make sure these new methods are well tested before being shared across the rest of the country”.
Overall, the pilot schemes have seen a good level of success. The ‘NHS dental contract pilots – Learning after first two years of piloting’ report has found that some of the schemes showed “real clinical benefits in terms of a reduction of risks and the improvement of health”, which is one reason why they have been kept on so far.