Dentists have been criticized for preventing trained support staff from delivering basic care, effectively hampering attempts to ease the NHS dental appointment nightmare.
The UK has 15,000 qualified dental hygienists and therapists, but experts say they are often prevented from carrying out their duties by “protectionist” dentists.
It comes as the government plans to allow foreign dentists to work in the UK without an examination of their qualifications to ease patient gridlock.
Miranda Steeples, president of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy, argued that progress could be made quickly on the backlog if these workers were better used.
“Our members could take on routine dental appointments, leaving dentists to handle complex issues such as extractions and fitting dentures, crowns and bridges,” he said.
Miranda Steeples, president of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to staff and patients during a visit to the Gentle Dental practice in Newquay, Cornwall, earlier this month.
‘But some dentists think we are second rate and don’t trust us. This is absolute nonsense, it is simply protectionism, which helps no one.’
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak earlier this month unveiled the “recovery plan” for NHS dentistry, which includes mobile check-up centers and wider coverage of fluoride in the water supply to protect against cavities.
But Ms Steeples wants the project to make better use of its staff.
She revealed that she had previously left office jobs after being reprimanded for doing fillings, a duty for which she is highly trained.
Dental hygienists and therapists are also not covered by the NHS’s gold-plated pension scheme, which offers a guaranteed annual payout from retirement until death.