Denplan, part of Simplyhealth, has published a white paper on the future of dentistry. This marks the culmination of months of in-depth research into the issues impacting private dentistry. The report includes insights from a survey Denplan conducted with its member dentists and wide-ranging discussions between leading oral health experts and dental professionals at Denplan’s virtual roundtable in February.
This report covers a wide range of issues that Denplan wants to highlight and put on the agenda of government, policy makers and the wider dental profession. Using Denplan’s extensive experience and clinical knowledge, as a leading voice of private dentistry in the UK, the white paper explores the five key areas of challenges and opportunities facing the private dental sector (including mixed, NHS and private practices) over the coming 12 months and beyond, including:
- The understanding of private dentistry
- The impact of Covid-19 on the sector
- Oral health and its impact on general health
- Innovation in the sector
- The dental profession: workforce, mental health, professional development
The report also makes a series of 14 recommendations to government to help address these matters and improve the nation’s oral health.
Commenting on the white paper, Catherine Rutland, clinical director at Simplyhealth said, “Denplan’s white paper is an important and exciting opportunity to place private dentistry at the forefront of the debate about the future of healthcare and ensure the voice of private dental practices is heard.
“The government needs to play a more active role in communicating to the public the importance of dental hygiene and routine check-ups in maintaining oral health, during the pandemic and beyond. Whilst there has been an increase in demand for urgent and emergency care, there has been a significant drop in patients attending routine dentistry due to stay at home restrictions. This will serve to grow the backlog of demand dentists need to meet in the next 12 months.
“The right thing to do is to support the profession and for the government to recognise the specific impact of Covid-19 on private dentistry and its potential impact on patient’s oral care. We would like the government to recognise the role played by private dentists in tackling the current backlog of cases.”
The publication of Denplan’s white paper comes at an interesting juncture for the dental profession and oral healthcare. The recent publication of the government’s white paper ‘Integration and Innovation’, combined with the impact of Covid-19 on the health system, means that how healthcare is delivered and accessed is changing.
Largely absent from these discussions has been the role of dentistry. Based in local communities, with regular patient contact and possessing extensive clinical experience, dental practices have the potential to be an integral part of delivering a preventive model of healthcare to meet the needs of a changing population and society post-covid. But this narrative is largely missing from current discussions in Westminster and Whitehall.