We are living in a world of uncertainty, but also in a world full of possibility. The profession of dentistry is no exception; NHS contracts and funding versus the exciting possibilities of digital dentistry.
As we move forward, one of the big considerations is what sort of world we are leaving for the next generation. The promise of high earnings from specialisms such as implants, facial aesthetics and social orthodontics, can easily lure dentists away from considering less popular aspects such as children’s dentistry. However, by using the latest technologies and developing team-led preventive pathways in our practices, we have the possibility of leaving a legacy of enthusiastic dental professionals and great oral health for our under 18 patients.
Dental Educational Programme
I have run a children’s dental educational programme for over 20 years, but have now delegated this so effectively, that the whole project is devised and run by the team. My only input is an annual examination of each child to assess for risk of disease, and when occasionally necessary, to provide restorative treatment (which could be delegated to a dental therapist).
The hygienist, Joss Harding, works with Oral Health Educator, Cheryl Goodenough, using the ‘Delivering Better Oral Health’ document*, to consider a preventive strategy for each age group. We concentrate on teaching only one aspect of dentistry every annual check-up visit, e.g. plaque or decay or diet, and every child sees the hygienist or OH Educator every 6 months to ensure oral hygiene is excellent.
‘National guidelines are used as a benchmark and secure reference point so that all team members understand how they can use their skills to the deliver the optimum care to each patient. With diets of many of the younger generation high in sugar and fat, it is vital to discuss health issues and spot problems early. This is only possible with regular visits. It is a privilege to have a professional ongoing educational relationship with these young patients.’ Joss
‘In my experience, a well-structured preventive plan for children provides appropriate care for each individual’s needs. All children get age-specific advice on how to look after their teeth, and are taught about dental disease. However, higher risk patients have extra planned visits with me, with specific desired outcomes, to reduce their risk level by the next check-up.’ Cheryl
Team members decide on the fun theme for each annual check-up session, co-ordinate information and motivators to be given out, organise the invitations (never ‘recalls’!), and decorate the practice. More serious information required prior to the sessions is flagging orthodontic assessments, looking at X ray intervals, ensuring sufficient fluoride applications and that cross infection procedures are upheld rigorously.
An important aspect of children’s dentistry is cost-effectiveness. The time invested in preventing disease should be costed fairly. Denplan Plans for Children offers an excellent way of supporting the expenditure at a reasonable fee.
‘As a mother of 2 children, having the reassurance that everything preventive is covered, along with getting the knowledge from the team makes the visits a much more enjoyable experience for children and parents.’ Cheryl
‘My daughter had serious damage to an incisor doing gymnastics – I was so glad I could claim on Denplan Plans for Children’ Joss
What better legacy can we give the children in our practices than a beautiful, healthy smile that they know how to maintain? It is within our team capabilities to do this, make it cost-effective - and have fun!
Ewa is a practicing dentist, Denplan Excel Advisor and coaches dentists and their teams by inspiring them to be the best they can be. For more information on how to set up a children’s preventive programme please contact Ewa Rozwadowska [email protected]. Joss was Dental Hygienist of the Year (2018), and is particularly passionate about improving care in general practice for cancer patients; www.mouthcareforcancerpatients.co.uk. Cheryl is a brilliant dental /sedation/radiography/fluoride nurse and Oral Health Educator.