A unique dental service serving children in residential care in Glasgow should be expanded to cover all children looked after away from home.
This is one of the recommendations in a Dental Health Audit published by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
The service is a partnership between the health board and Glasgow City Council through the Looked After and Accommodated Children (LAAC) Health Team and the Community Paediatric Dental Service.
Glasgow has the largest LAAC population in Scotland, and one of the poorest dental health records.
The dental service, which offers priority appointments to these patients, was set up after LAAC nurses identified deficiencies in the dental health of these youngsters.
Anecdotally, it was reported that young people from residential units have higher than average levels of dental decay in Glasgow.
These patients also experience a high frequency of moderate to severe dental anxiety and are more likely to regularly break appointments.
As a result another recommendation is to reduce the length of time spent in a waiting room and emphasise the importance of follow-up appointments.
Jackie Dougall, Specialist Nurse LAAC said:
“Children cared away from home tend to go to the dentist only when toothache kicks in, rather than for prevention.
“The toothache is treated, but then they don’t go back for further treatment.
“We want to get them out of this cycle and encourage the youngsters to clean their teeth regularly and go for assessment even if they don’t have toothache.”
The service was piloted in 2005 in residential units in the east end of Glasgow with the help of a Community Paediatric Dentist, who offered to take referrals and priority appointments from the children/young people.
Prior to that the young residents were not offered a dental health assessment as a matter of routine when they went into residential care.
Julie McNicol, Community Paediatric Dentist, said: “We were keen to develop a flexible service which was appropriate to the needs of the children.
“Key to this was ensuring that children had access to local child-friendly clinics specialising in paediatric dental care.
“It is essential to provide preventative and holistic care to such priority groups.”
For more information contact Susan Carden, Communications Officer, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, tel 0141 201 4429
Community Paediatric Dentists are committed to offering an appointment to young people in residential care, when asked, within five working days.
Notes to Editors:
For emergency appointments, patients whose phone calls were received before 11 am would be seen on the same day, and those who called after that time should be offered a next day appointment.