In a letter to the publication, British dentists say governmental red tape has hindered their ability to practice care at the level necessary to treat the country’s high number of individuals in need.
The National Health Service provides free medical, dental, optical and prescription services for residents of the U.K. According to NHS statistics, 64.6 million people in the U.K. (54.3 million in England alone) use its services.
The authors of the letter say a “national health disaster” is imminent. The writers also say they are unable to treat patients or provide preventative care.
The situation is so dire that charities from developing nations have stepped in to help.
A Helping Hand
The letter characterizes the British health care system as an “international disgrace” because charities initially set up to provide aid in developing countries were stepping in to provide dental care. The letter also mentions proposals by the U.S. to establish free dental clinics in the U.K.
One of these charities is Dentaid, an organization doing work in Africa, Asia and Central America; it set up its first U.K. charity service two years ago. Established in West Yorkshire, the group collaborates with local dentists to provide free and sliding-scale dental services for low-income patients.
Since its arrival in West Yorkshire, Dentaid has expanded its reach to Hampshire, Cornwall and Buckinghamshire using a mobile clinic that provides both treatment and preventative education.
Remote Area Medical, a U.S. charity based in Tennessee, is seeking to establish temporary dental clinics to offer free dental care. The organization’s mission is to prevent pain and alleviate suffering by providing free quality health care to those in need.
Remote Area Medical has set up over 900 of these temporary clinics to meet health care and dental needs in medically underserved areas.
Charities are not the only ones watching the developing problem with a close eye. Stan Brock, a British-born philanthropist and founder of Remote Area Medical, investigated the state of dental care in the country and found that a majority of British people lived in areas where dentists were not accepting new National Health Service patients.
A Crisis for Children
The dentists’ letter in the Daily Telegraph also explained that dentists were frustrated due to lack of funding, mandated treatment targets and reporting requirements.
The message also reminded readers that the leading medical reason for British children being admitted to the hospital is tooth decay. The writers of the letter hope that the letter is a wake-up call to the government to make dental care a priority in the country.
A spokesman for the NHS responded to the dentists’ letter that a recent survey found that people looking for dentists can readily find one. Their response also indicated that patients report being satisfied with their dental care nearly 90 percent of the time.
The organization also recently established a plan to focus its efforts on communities where the need for dental care is high in hopes of changing outcomes for young children.
According to another British publication, the Mirror, 160 children in England have teeth taken out every day.
“In most cases, tooth extractions from children require general anesthesia,” said Stefania Caracioni, D.D.S., L.V.I.F., a Topeka dentist.
Although general sedation is entirely safe when properly administered, there are side effects of anesthesia that can be extreme in children.
“Confusion, nausea, vomiting and even loss of coordination can be expected after general anesthesia and can cause patients and parents alike stress and worry,” Caracioni said.
The current call for change is not the first time that British dentists have launched a public awareness campaign to improve dental health. In 2017, dentists from across the country worked together to ban annual visits by the Coca-Cola Christmas truck.
The Telegraph. Dental crisis leaves Britain reliant on charity from the developing world. 2 January 2018.
The Mirror. British kids have worse teeth than those in Third World nations as charity is forced to step in to help crisis-hit NHS. 2 January 2018.