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Thursday 20th June 2019

Patients should take better care of their teeth

4th January 2011

Newcastle University dental expert Dr Jimmy Steele says that patients have an obligation to look after their teeth if they want care.


When it comes to health, and dentistry in particular, problems arise in the relationship between money, value and goods.

Neglect and poor hygiene see teeth deteriorate, so should a dental team be paid to try to help us avoid dental disease before it starts?

The coalition government has now announced plans for a new dental contract, one that will see a dentist paid for the number of patients and health outcomes rather than for the fillings and other treatments they provide.

This approach should provide incentives to dentists to help patients minimise risk of disease rather than wait and have it treated.

While patients will still pay, they will get better health for their money.

But what happens when something more costly is needed such as a root treatment or a bridge.

Some may suggest these are taken out of the NHS treatment range, though they do play a part in a healthy mouth because such treatments may fail if the disease risk is not managed.

But if the state is to fund such treatments, the patient must take steps to try to maintain their own oral health.

While cutting out alcohol and smoking require willpower, cleaning your teeth to keep your mouth healthy is straightforward.

If taxpayers are contributing to the NHS to provide costly and difficult treatment, asking the patient to provide a healthy mouth first seems a reasonable deal, doesn't it?


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