The British Dental Health Foundation has been providing an independent and impartial dental helpline since 1997. Over the past 14 years it has gained a unique customer insight into the vast range of dental issues important to the public.
New data released by the Foundation reveals the top five most common enquiries from the public and some of the trends over the past five years.
In 2006, five issues accounted for well over half of all enquiries from the public (58 per cent). These included NHS Regulations (15 per cent), Dental Charges (13 per cent), Finding a Dentist (11 per cent), Prosthetics (11 per cent) and Complaints (8 per cent).
In 2011, the same five issues accounted for 44 per cent of all enquiries, 14 per cent lower compared to five years ago. Implants, crowns and bridges and other removable appliances now top the list with around one in seven (13 per cent) of all enquiries.
The greatest changes concern the NHS, with significantly lower enquiries relating to dental charges (-8 per cent), NHS Regulations (-4 per cent) and Finding a Dentist (-3 per cent). Increasingly important issues to the public include seeking advice on oral hygiene (7 per cent) and legal and professional conduct issues (6 per cent).
Sharon Broom, the Foundation’s Director of Operations, said: “A new dental contract in 2006 created significant interest in NHS regulations and charges. Since then, the public has become more familiar with NHS Dentistry. However, with a new dental contract being piloted in some parts of the UK, we are already forecasting another increase in calls when the new contract is rolled out.
“Overall, the public has remained fairly consistent with its information needs over the past five years. We are pleased that the number of calls regarding oral hygiene is increasing. A greater awareness of consumer rights in all aspects of everyday life is also spreading into dentistry, with more and more callers seeking information on legal issues.”
“The Foundation’s Dental Helpline is staffed by qualified dental nurses and costs, on average, £9 per call. It continues to be funded entirely by charitable donations and we hope the dental profession and trade continue to support this unique and important part of patient communication.”
1. Top Five Dental Health Enquiries