Keeping up the pressure on dental services

Last June we published a report about Camden’s dentists, based on what we learned from talking to local people. We also spoke to dentists to see the whole picture.

We publish reports because we want to make sure that people who use Camden’s health and social care services get their voices heard when shaping services. We also aim to highlight where health and social care providers are doing well.

Residents told us they don’t attend regular dentist appointments and only go when they have tooth pain. They also said that they’re confused about what the costs might be when they do attend.

Dentists told us that regular dental check-ups are important to ensure good oral health. They wished that more people visited the dentist to prevent problems, rather than just coming for treatment once problems arose.

We published a report and recommendations, but we didn’t want to leave it at that. We wanted to make sure our work led to some concrete improvements in services.

Our independence from service providers means that we have the opportunity to ensure that health and social care services really meet local people’s needs.

The dentists explained that some of the recommendations we made were difficult to implement because they can’t force people to come for check-ups, also prices for different treatments are set by the NHS.

Our findings showed that people are not usually keen to go for dental check-ups. Encouraging people to change the way they behave is a big job and involves action on many levels including education about oral health.

The good thing is that dentists can take action to reduce some of the extra things that put people off – like making sure they’re welcoming and being absolutely clear in the way they explain the costs to patients from the start.

The dentists were keen to keep working with us to make changes so we set up a group comprised of Healthwatch Camden, a dentist (who is a member of the Local Dental Committee and feeds back to the other dentists) and a representative from public health. Through this group we’ve got the people and the relationships that allow us to keep up the pressure and work together to make a difference.

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