The Government is committed to improving oral health, particularly of deprived children.
NHS England (Yorkshire and the Humber) have finalised plans to improve access to National Health Service dental services across the region. Over £4 million is being invested in the areas with the greatest need to increase the number of available dental appointments.
NHS England ‘Starting Well’ programme which will work in 13 high needs areas to reach children most at risk of tooth decay who are not currently under the routine care of a dentist. This includes the North West (Blackburn with Darwen; Blackpool; Bolton; Oldham; Rochdale and Salford).
Nationally, NHS England has also developed a complementary Starting Well Core offer, a commissioning approach designed to facilitate increased access and early preventive care for young children, supported by the Chief Dental Officer, which commissioners can use and fund locally based on their own assessment of need. Starting Well Core is being implemented by NHS England West Midlands in a bid to increase dental access amongst young children across the region.
Alongside local authorities’ duties to improve health, including oral health, Public Health England is leading a wide ranging multi agency programme focussing on improving children’s oral health. The Child Health Improvement Programme Board which supports evidenced based actions that will increase the use of fluoride (toothpaste, varnish, water fluoridation). This is in addition to the childhood obesity plan which sets out measures that will reduce the amount of sugar children consume.
The Department and NHS England are continuing to test a new way of providing NHS dental services which aims to further improve oral health and increase access. Over 70 practices are currently trialling a new way of delivering primary care dentistry which focusses on prevention and helping patients to reduce their risk of future disease.