BDIA Presentation Hints at the Future

BDIA Presentation Hints at the Future

There is a serious lack of information about what dental professionals actually do. Whatever the question might be about: hours, working under Private or NHS systems, delivering maintenance, or high ticket reconstructions, there is a lack of solid data. 

This was the GDC’s justification for adding new questions about activity to the registration renewal process. With a 55% response rate it may be dangerous to attach much weight to it. For those trying to predict the future of UK dentistry, a visit to the recent BDIA Dental Showcase at Excel would have been illuminating.

Saturday morning at the Showcase saw Interim Chief Dental Officer, Jason Wong delivering his Keynote address. Unlike his predecessor this was a jargon and catchphrase free session. He fitted a great deal into his allotted thirty minutes, and there was at least one projected change that was unfamiliar to this observer.

Set in one of the larger spaces, the clinical theatre, the audience numbered less than 20 as the interim CDO began to speak. By the time he reached his last slide this had not reached 50.

The next speaker in the same space was Cat Edney. Her presentation was “Putting patients in the Picture -The Digital Oral Health Assessment.” It described a way of working, where new patients and recalls were closely involved in their examination, assessment and treatment planning. Cat made the case for slow scanning, with patients watching their scan appearing tooth by tooth, and often starting conversations about wear, recession and breakages, as they looked at the screen.

Cat is a dental therapist and hygienist and her practice works with what she described as a ‘therapist led model.’ In this arrangement she gathers information and carries out a scan as the patient watches, talking them through what they can both see. Following this, the practice team will provide care, depending on who is best suited to each part of the plan. For example, Cat stabilising, and delivering items within her scope, and other practice members doing any more complex restorations, surgery and other specialities.

In short, Cat’s practice is the embodiment of skill mix. Not to cut costs and get ministers off the hook, but to deliver comprehensive high quality care. The interim CDO is a well-known proponent of skill mix and it forms one of the remaining planks of the recovery plan, albeit an untested one.

Later in the day Cat delivered a session devoted to air polishing, focussing on the various systems and powders available, as well as their indications. While delivered in the smaller Oral Health Theatre, it was full to capacity. The audience, including many hygienists and therapists eagerly taking screen shots of Cat’s slides, may have little opportunity to use their knowledge in an NHS that is discouraging regular attendance, and questions the value of polishing teeth.

Despite Andrea Leadsom’s fever dreams, there are not 60,000 but around 6,000 UK therapists. It may be that they find Cat Edney’s vison of the future more appealing than Jason Wong’s.

For GDPUK readers experiencing FOMO, or those wishing to remind themselves why they reduced or dropped their NHS commitment, a report of the CDOs keynote presentation will follow.

Interim CDO Jason Wong speaking at CDOE lecture theatre on 22-03-24




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