We all know that good dental health is hugely important, but many people put-off visiting their dentists. This can often lead to minor tooth and gum problems getting significantly worse and more difficult (and expensive!) to treat. Unfortunately, the imminent closure of medical advice helpline provided by NHS Direct is likely to affect dental health most of all, according to a leading expert.
NHS Direct is an advice and information service provided by the NHS for residents and visitors of the UK. It is staffed by nurses and trained health advisors at 33 sites around the country, and takes around five million calls per year. However, due to high running costs the government has announced plans to phase out the service in favour of the new non-emergency NHS 111 number, which will employ fewer qualified nurses and will instead turn to non-specialist “call advisors” who have completed a 60-hour training programme.
The service regularly took more calls related to dentistry than any other area. Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Association, has raised concerns about the standards of advice the new NHS 111 number will be able to offer, particularly regarding dental healthcare.
“NHS Direct was a quality service and an essential source of information for the public. Sadly, they have replaced it with a facility which will simply struggle to offer the same standard of assistance. Regrettably, it will be dental health that will suffer the most.”
If you have concerns about your dental health, you can still call the National Dental Helpline (0845 063 1188), which is staffed by fully-qualified dental nurses, who offer free advice at a local-rate number. It has dealt with more than 250,000 calls since its formation and offers advice on a full range of dental issues, from difficulties in trying to find a local NHS dentist, to solutions to combat dental pain and phobias.
Of course, the best way to ensure good dental health is to regularly visit your dentist. If you have a health care cash plan from , you can claim cash back towards dental health care treatment including fillings check-ups and hygienist fees, x-rays and dentures, so there’s no need to put your teeth at risk by delaying making an appointment!