Government figures mask participation
The Scottish Government’s announcement of ‘record breaking’ increases in dental registration rates masks a long-term decline in patient participation, according to the British Dental Association in Scotland.
Statistics published by ISD recently showed that 91 per cent of the population is registered with a dentist, up from 89 per cent in 2015 and 52 per cent up from 2007. However, the BDA points out that only 72 per cent of the 4.8 million people currently registered (as of March 2016) have seen an NHS dentist in the last two years.
The association argues that participation rates have been in steady decline since changes to registration rules in 2007. At this point, 99 per cent of the 2.5 million registered patients had contact with their dentist.
It also says that, while the figures show there is no difference in registration rates between children living in the most and least deprived areas, rates of participation continue to vary sharply between communities.
Robert Donald, chair of the BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee, said: “These record-breaking registration rates mask a long-term decline in participation among patients. The reality is while many people in deprived communities are getting on the books, they are not making it to the dentist’s chair.
“We know Scotland has a lot to be proud of when it comes to fighting decay, particularly the big gains we’ve seen through ChildSmile. Now we need real effort from government to ensure adults are seeking the regular care that they need.
“Lifetime registration is good for generating positive statistics, but that means very little if the patients in most need are not seeking treatment. Boosting attendance among adults would do wonders for Scotland’s oral health, particularly on oral cancer where early detection is key.”