The British Dental Health Foundation has been at the cornerstone of the dental industry for more than four decades. In that time there have been huge developments which have helped to shape a very future focussing and progressive field. Now the charity is entering a new era as we welcome a new president. After years of supporting the charity's work, including being a trustee for four years, Janet Goodwin recently ascended to the mantle of President of the British Dental Health Foundation. We sat down with Janet for an in depth chat about what she hopes to achieve from her presidency.
Can you just give us a brief overview of your background?
I started working in the dental profession in 1971 and have worked in many different environments throughout the industry; from general practice, community, within a dental hospital and further education colleges.
Whilst working at the Leeds Dental Hospital as Nurse Manager of both the clinical and educational services I attained a degree in Business Management alongside many other qualifications in clinical, teaching and management which I feel has been a great advantage to my career.
Alongside my work for the foundation I am a Chief Examiner for City and Guilds, Chairman of the DCP Committee for The Faculty of General Dental Practice, and a Registration Assessor and Clinical Expert for the General Dental Council.
I was the first dental nurse to become a member of the General Dental Council in 2009 and have found the role very rewarding and fulfilling as it has helped me to gain a better knowledge and understanding of governance and regulation.
I have been heavily involved with other organisations for a number of years including The National Examining Board for Dental Nurses as Chairman, Qualifications Manager, and as an examiner. I am a member of the Institute of Leadership and Management and have co-authored a dental nurse text book as well as having several academic articles published.
What do you think are the key issues in dentistry today?
One of the main problems which I see today is a shortage of NHS dentistry is certain areas of the country. Some people are not able to access quality care which is convenient affordable to them, this can put them off visiting the dentist altogether and means those who may need it the most are not getting the care and support they require.
The availability of drinks and confectionary with high sugar content is also a major problem; this is especially the case when it comes to children's dental health where nearly half of eight year olds have visible signs of decay in their teeth. This is a major health issue in the UK which need to be addressed urgently; I believe that the introduction of a ‘sugar-tax' would be a hugely beneficial step.
What has been the biggest change during your career?
The most change has come in the regulation and governance of dentistry in the UK. This includes the registration of DCP's with the GDC, regulation of working environments by the CQC and government legislation. Dental professionals are now more accountable for what they do which theoretically means better care for patients which is obviously a great change.
The level of education in the quality assurance of dental professionals training has also really changed for the better. The quality of training is much more professional and directed and this is being reflected in the treatments which they are able to offer patients.
Have public attitudes changed during your career?
Slightly yes, but for many people there is still a lot of fear attached to the prospect of going to the dentist, which within modern dentistry is highly unnecessary. Too many people relate going to the dentist with being in pain which is a lot of the problem, modern dentistry is in fact pain free and there is far more of a focus on preventative treatments to stop pain occurring in the first instance.
People also associate the dentist with being told off; in fact dentists are trained to provide support, advice and guidance patients to help them avoid problems.
There is also still a misconception that dental treatment should be free to all as with medical conditions. This is not the case and charges for dental treatment on the NHS are very reasonable for the level of quality and service the patient receives. The payments help to build better NHS dentistry services and make the treatment available to patients a much higher standard.
What would you like to see change in the industry?
One of the main issues which I will address during my presidency is to make good quality, trustworthy and accurate dental health information available to more people.
I believe this will help to relieve some of the anxieties which I have outlined earlier and go a long way to address the level of tooth decay in the UK.
I want to help make visiting the dentist something people don't worry about and feel safe and comfortable doing by increasing their own knowledge.
I would also like for the public to recognise the importance of their teeth for eating and speaking rather than wanting perfect brilliant white teeth to look like celebrities. These are often purely cosmetic and may cause further dental health problems for them in the future if done incorrectly.
What would you like to achieve as president?
A tricky question. I hope to use my experience and knowledge to help steer the trustees to make informed decisions on the direction of the foundation, and how they can use their influence to help further enhance public experiences, information and knowledge of dental issues and best practices.
What do you see in the future of dentistry?
I believe there will be far more corporate dentistry companies and less one man practices. This will hopefully allow for more shared knowledge and better services for patients. Alongside this I also see more professionals specialising in areas such as implants and whitening.
One change I would like to see is more free treatments being promoted by dental practices to help improves everyone's knowledge, and therefore state, of their dental health.
If you were to give one piece of advice what would that be?
Easy, basic dental health messages never change. It has been the same piece of advice which I have been giving for many years - visit your dentist every six months!