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Current services in relation to need

Background papers: children :: Dental health in children :: Current services in relation to need

Most NHS dental services for children are provided in the primary care setting. Dental services are commissioned geographically but individuals may access any dentist they wish. Since introduction of the new dental contract in 2006, primary care dental services have been procured in areas of need as identified in PCTs' oral health needs assessments (OHNAs). Medway is not affected by marked differences in geographical variation of services, however there are still variations in the uptake of services across Medway.

The use of dental services as measured by the numbers of patients seen as a proportion of the population also suggests that access in Medway is better than other parts of Kent (Figure 3). NHS dental access in Medway is relatively higher than in West Kent and Eastern and Coastal Kent. This difference in dental access may be due to geography, relatively easier access to services and greater awareness of dental services.

Figure 3 Dental access in the South East Coast PCTs
Figure 3 Dental access in the South East Coast PCTs

There were 540 Looked after Children (LAC) in 2010 in Medway (Department for Education, 2010). LAC access dental care in Medway though a recognised referral and dental care pathway. There is multidisciplinary input which can include initial assessment and treatment planning at the community dental service. This results in referral to specialist paediatric dentists if required or referral on to a general dental practitioner for treatment and regular recalls as appropriate.

Oral health promotion services are commissioned from the salaried and community dental services providers. A coordinated strategy is needed to reduce the oral health inequalities in children, focussing especially on pre-school children.