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Dentists told to see healthy patients less often

People with healthy teeth are being encouraged to visit the dentist less frequently.
People with healthy teeth are being encouraged to visit the dentist less frequently.

Plans to make it easier for people in Wakefield with teeth problems to see a dentist will be discussed later this week.

A West Yorkshire-wide initiative entitled "Recall Matters" is encouraging dental practices to free up time for those who really need treatment by seeing patients with healthy teeth less often.

The scheme is aiming to challenge the current practice of patients having regular check ups with their dentist once every six months regardless of the state of their teeth. It recommends instead that some people go only once every two years.

A report to go before Wakefield's health scrutiny committee on Thursday said: "The purpose of the project is to work with dental practices and the public to ensure dental recall intervals between routine dental check-ups for adults fit with the guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)."

"Many people across the region struggle to find an NHS dentist, and it is believed that by extending the dental recall rate for patients with healthy teeth, there could be an increase in the availability of dental appointments generally."

Although the report recommends that adults can leave a window of up to 24 months between routine appointments, children are still advised to go at least once a year.

However, it stresses that patients should be involved in decisions about how and when they are seen by their dentist.

The report added: "Local anecdotal information suggests that some patients expect a dental recall interval of six months regardless of risk.

"A research study conducted by the General Dental Council found that, when patients are given information about how their dentist decides when their next check-up should be, four fifths of respondents felt comfortable in asking for a recall interval of between nine and 12 months."