RCPCH responds to NHS Dental Recovery Plan

NHS England and the Government have published their plan to combat high demand for NHS dentistry and focus on greater prevention and good oral health in young children.
Document icon on blue background

The newly announced NHS Dental Recovery Plan includes:

  • £200m of government funding in which NHS dentists will be given a ‘new patient' payment of between £15-£50 depending on treatment needed. 
  • Introducing a new ‘Smile for Life' programme which will see parents and parents-to-be offered advice for baby gums and milk teeth.  
  • Offering around 240 dentists’ one-off payments of up to £20,000 for working in under-served areas for up to three years.    
  • Attracting dental teams to the NHS by increasing the minimum value of activity to £28 (from £23).
  • Delivering more care in rural and coastal areas, including launching ‘dental vans' to help reach the most isolated communities.
  • Consulting on the rolling out a water fluoridation programme, which could reduce the number of tooth extractions due to decay in the most deprived areas of the country. 
  • Allowing the public to see which practices in their local area are accepting new patients on the NHS website and the NHS App. 

RCPCH Officer for Health Improvement, Dr Helen Stewart, said:

Clear and decisive action is needed to tackle the state of the nation’s teeth, especially in childhood. Tooth decay remains the most common reason for hospital admission in children under five and the latest data shows the strong link between deprivation and decay, with children living in lower-income areas more than twice as likely to have tooth decay than their more affluent peers. 

Paediatricians are seeing children with poor oral health presenting with consistent pain, infections, altered sleep and eating patterns and decreased wellbeing. We are even hearing reports of children as old as 10 or 11 going their whole lives without ever seeing a dentist. Our dentistry colleagues are doing their very best but are simply unable to keep up with the demand. Support for their workforce is a welcome relief. 

We also welcome the other proposals laid out by the Government and NHS, especially the focus on prevention in young children and reaching underserved and isolated communities. The promotion of good oral health in young children and a water fluoridation programme can make real impact in preventing decay in children, especially in more deprived areas. I’m pleased to see that we now have a path forward but saddened that we had to reach crisis point first.