MOUTHS across Belper have a healthier gleam, after dozens of people got their teeth into a dental voucher scheme supported by the Belper News.
In March we gave patients in the town, many of whom had not seen a dentist for at least two years, the chance to snap-up a free examination worth £17 by printing vouchers in this newspaper.
Some only required a check-up, but many went on to have further treatment and have since been passed by professionals as being ‘dentally fit’.
The promotion ran at 32 dental practices across the county. NHS chiefs said the initiative has helped thousands of people to get back into the habit of seeing a dentist regularly.
Dentist Mak Sidhu, of Park Dental, was among those whotook part in the scheme.
He said: “A lot of patients had not been for 10 or 20 years. The worst case was someone who had left it so long, more than 20 years, that she had very severe gum disease and her teeth were so loose that she had to have several extracted and a denture made.
“She had been suffering in silence until her family coaxed her along to see me.”
The scheme was launched after NHS Derbyshire County was awarded £180,000 by the Department of Health as part of a Government push to increase access for new dental patients into the NHS.
Keith Mann, head of primary care for NHS Derbyshire County, said: “We’re delighted that this scheme has been a resounding success, and it’s fantastic that dentists participating in this scheme saw nearly 3,000 people who would not normally have attended.
“Not only does this mean that thousands of people who haven’t seen a dentist in years are now back on track with their dental treatment, which may save them unnecessary pain and money in the long run, but it also means thousands of people have also been given the necessary follow-up treatment.”
As part of their appointment, participants took a short questionnaire about the barriers they found to accessing dental care, with 35 per cent saying it was because they thought they could not get to see an NHS dentist.
“A lot of misconceptions about NHS dental access still remain, which is surprising considering the high level of investment we’ve put into increasing dental access and promoting awareness of the services available,” Mr Mann added.
“These results have made us realise that more work needs to be done.”
The survey also revealed people did not realise they could attend any practice that is taking on NHS patients, either for a one-off course of treatment or for regular dental check-ups.
This is because dental registration was abolished in 2006.Another initiative which has been set-up in recent weeks to encourage people to access NHS dentists is the Dental Local Professional Network.
To find an NHS dentist in your area, call Derbyshire PCT’s dedicated dental line on 0800 783 7279.