17 June 2016

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, statement in response to Citizens Advice Press Release: Patients hit by extra charges after poor dental treatment.

"The claims made by Citizens Advice are enormously misleading, they fail to highlight the vast majority of dental treatments carried out in the UK that are carried out without any issues whatsoever.

"Recent government figures show that there were 9.9 million NHS dental treatments carried out in England and Wales in the last quarter alone, these figures do not take into account private treatment but these would take it well over 15 million.

"Citizens Advice refers to helping with 4,000 problems over the last year, this equates to less than a tenth of one percent of treatments in the same period, and is an attempt to frighten the public and paint dentistry in a negative light.

"By ignoring the bigger picture of dentistry in the UK they are not helping the one in four people who are already incredibly nervous about visiting the dentists and fuelling fear in even more people. This is an issue which has contributed to more than 80% of adults suffering from dental decay and most (nine in ten) adults experiencing a degree of gum disease at some time in their life. Regular visits to a dentist is a big factor in stopping this.

"The cases which they are referring to are also hugely subjective. In our experience many of the calls we get to our dental helpline from people who have problems with their treatment fail to take this issue up directly with their dentists to get it sorted. We know for a fact the vast majority of dental professionals in the UK will go to great lengths to correct any issues which may occur during their treatment. We urge anybody who feels they have had a problem to discuss it with their dental team before anybody else.

"There will obviously be a small number of valid and robust complaints and for these the systems are in place to deal with them correctly and efficiently.

"I would like to see organisations such as Citizens Advice supporting patients and improving the oral health of people in the UK by highlighting how more than 99.5% of dental treatments carried out in the UK go without any problems at all. Modern dentistry methods make a patients visit to the dentist easy and almost completely pain free, getting people to understand this and not using scare tactics will help people overcome their nervousness about visiting the dentist and change the course of the UK's oral health."