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Tackling inequalities in oral health

Published: 24 Jan 2018 09:48

New Improvement Plan launched. 

New ways to prevent poor oral health, cut oral health inequalities and address the needs of the ageing population have been outlined.

The Scottish Government’s new Oral Health Improvement Plan sets out a new preventive system of care to assess patients based on risk, and address the link between deprivation and ill-health. It will see the introduction of personalised care plans which focus on lifestyle choices, for example diet, alcohol and smoking, and how these impact on health.

Among its recommendations, a new scheme is proposed to meet the needs of the ageing population, enabling suitably skilled practitioners to treat people cared for in their own homes, and a Community Challenge Fund of up to £500,000 in 2018/19 will allow organisations to bid for funding to work in deprived communities and support people to practise better oral health. 

Health Secretary Shona Robison launched the plan following extensive consultation with health professionals and the public, and based on the latest clinical evidence.

Ms Robison said: 

“Record numbers of Scots have access to NHS dentists, and as a nation our oral health is improving. But poor oral health is entirely preventable and we need to ensure we do all we can to tackle it, and break the link between oral health and deprivation.

“The Oral Health Improvement Plan will support the profession to spend more time on what they do best – providing excellent care for the patients who need it most. We will continue to work closely with them as the recommendations are implemented. It will ensure people get the personalised care they need, when and where they need it.

“We will reach out beyond dental practices to support communities to find innovative ways to support people lead healthier lives – particularly in deprived areas or among older people.”

Professor Lorna Macpherson, Glasgow University Dental School, said:

“The Oral Health Improvement Plan – with its focus on prevention, community initiatives and ‎services for older people – is exactly the dental public health approach Scotland should be adopting.”

Valerie White, Chair of the Scottish Consultants in Dental Public Health Group, said:

“The publication of the Oral Health Action Plan for Scotland marks an important step in developing a preventive approach within NHS dental services. It also presents an opportunity  to maximise the contribution that dental teams can make to the general health and wellbeing of the population of Scotland.”


The new Oral Health Improvement Plan is available online.