At a routine appointment, it was discovered that new patient Dominika needed a filling. As a teenager, Dominika had had a brace and had always been very conscientious about oral hygiene, but as an adult she had lapsed back into bad habits. Although she had always brushed her teeth regularly with a manual toothbrush, it was clear she had not been brushing slowly or methodically enough. Classified as a ‘Red’ patient, Dominika needed to demonstrate some improvements in her oral healthcare before a full treatment programme could be implemented.
Someone is classified as ‘red’ when there is a high risk of dental disease. Oral health problems have been identified by a dental professional, and they need urgent attention. A red classification will mean that it is necessary that they are seen again quickly – ideally within seven days – because there are important oral healthcare issues that need to be addressed. Initially the patient spends time with the Oral Health Education team.
The team discusses the patient’s oral hygiene regime in detail and makes sure the patient understands what constitutes ‘best practice’. This includes simple things like how to use the toothbrush and areas of the mouth that may be missed when cleaning. The team provides advice and support, so the patient can take control of improving their oral hygiene to a point where a course of treatment can take place. The team will also provide ongoing support and advice to reduce the likelihood of the patient ever needing invasive treatment, like fillings and extractions, in the future. This is a new and better focus for dentists, because prevention is better than cure. So, spending time and resources improving oral healthcare and preventing patients needing expensive clinical treatments is a far better use of NHS budgets.
Within a few weeks, Dominika’s oral health showed real improvement. Read her story here.