AS PEOPLE continue to experience waiting lists and difficulties in securing dentist appointments, NHS Shetland has reiterated that the easing of restrictions does not mean dental services are back to normal.
Director of dentistry Antony Visocchi also said that a change in culture will have to be implemented to use resources more efficiently and help the service work through the backlog created by the pandemic.
“The easing of restrictions is the start of the ability of NHS Shetland and independent practices to attend to treatment needs,” he said.
“However, this does not mean we are back to ‘business as usual’. We are still having to prioritise patient groups and provide our service to those in need.”
He added: “Some changes in culture will have to be accepted by communities as we move forward e.g. the move away from six month check –ups for everyone, regardless of their need.
“Many dental practices will also have to assess their patients on an individual basis and advise of the frequency that they should be seen going forward.
“This could vary from three to 24-month intervals. This is something that is not only affecting the population of Shetland but is being looked at and implemented nationwide.”
Visocchi also said that NHS Shetland is currently advertising for two new dentists, which, if successful, should help provide a better service.
“One is to replace an existing member of staff and the other is to provide maternity cover,” he said.
Last week’s appointment of Professor Grant McIntyre will provide long-term security of the orthodontic service in Shetland, Visocchi said.
Meanwhile, the health board’s dental service will be sending out an Oral Health Care at Home booklet to all households to encourage people to look after their teeth, prevent dental problems and improve the oral health of the Shetland community.
‘Almost all dental disease is preventable’
The booklet is the brainchild of oral health education nurse Angela Hopwood, who has been supported throughout the project by the rest of the team.
Dr Visocchi said: “The genuine concern for limited access to dental services through the pandemic has been huge. This initiative is typical of the approach of the whole dental service by putting our patients first and trying to maintain the great work that has been going on in Shetland for years.
“Almost all dental disease is preventable. The lifestyle that we all employ at home regarding dietary habits, especially sugar frequency, brushing and interdental brushing are the most important factors to avoid disease and maintain oral health.
“For each household to have the information in this booklet to hand, will allow easy and repeated access to the main messages of prevention.”
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