Welsh Government issues new guidelines for 12-monthly check-ups to reduce backlogs

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The Welsh Government has issued new guidelines recommending less frequent dental check-ups.

Under new measures, patients who have good oral health will be encouraged to attend routine appointments once a year instead of twice. It is hoped that the guidance will free up time for dentists to clear backlogs and reduce waiting times for patients.

Chief dental officer for Wales, Prof Andrew Dickenson, described advice recommending 6-monthly check-ups as “outdated” and claimed that switching to 12-monthly checks would enable dental practices in Wales to see 112,000 more patients per year.

Professor Dickenson explained that research indicates that 6-monthly check-ups are not needed for the majority of people due to improving standards of oral health.
Children and teenagers will still be advised to attend check-ups every six months and patients who are at high risk of developing dental problems and those with existing oral conditions will also be encouraged to visit practices more frequently.

More than 65% of Welsh dental practices have already agreed to the changes and they have also been given a target for adding new patients to try to tackle backlogs.

The move has been criticised by the British Dental Association. Representatives said that the measures were nothing new, as most dentists already issue recall advice based on patient needs. Patients who have healthy teeth are not usually advised to attend 6-monthly appointments. The chair of the Welsh General Dental Practice Committee added that the chief dental officer’s claims “look like they were cobbled together on the back of an envelope.”

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