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Glasgow dental students face patient shortage

At Glasgow Dental School and Hospital, students often hone their skills on patients who opt for the free service that the school provides, rather than paying for a professional dentist. The course is built around this, and students need to have completed a certain number of procedures in order to graduate.

However, the dental school is in trouble as it is having trouble attracting the patients that its students rely on. Students are falling behind in their studies due to the shortage of patients to practice on, despite the poor levels of oral health suffered by many areas of Glasgow.

Arshad Ali, clinical ­director and managing director at the Scottish Centre for ­Excellence in Dentistry said: “Unfortunately, Greater Glasgow and Clyde has one of the highest rates of smokers and poorest quality diet amongst adults, both of which are closely linked to poor oral health.”

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has said that there are areas of Glasgow that have some of the worst dental records in all of Europe. The city is in dire need of dental care, yet its residents are unwilling to take advantage of the free service offered by the dental school.

Each free procedure, which are usually routine operations such as fillings or root ­canal treatments, earns the student who performs it a certain amount of points towards their course. If the students have not completed the correct number of procedures after their fifth year of study, they are not able to graduate.

This makes the current patient shortage extremely worrying for many students. The school can source patients for students if they are given enough notice, but they should be able to get by on the number of patients turning up for free treatments.

Many are blaming a lack of dental marketing from the school. Currently, the organisation only advertises for patients once every year. However, many students do not believe that this is enough, and more people would turn up for free treatment if they were aware of the service.

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