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Tooth bus rooted out 300 problems
HEALTH officials believe a three-month campaign using a mobile dental clinic has proved successful after finding 300 people who need treatment from a dentist.
The bus has been visiting Oxfordshire as part of a drive to reach people who have not regularly seen a dentist, and in total 396 people received check-ups.
Of those, just over three-quarters were referred to a dentist for further treatment.
Shapour Hariri, director of Iosis Dental Clinics, which runs the bus on behalf of NHS Oxfordshire, said: “We are pleased that the tooth bus was able to help three-quarters of those who were checked.
“This shows that the tooth bus has done its job.”
A further 325 people were given dental hygiene information on the tooth bus, which has been driving to various locations in the county since late November.
Its last port of call in Oxfordshire was on Saturday, February 23, at Sainsbury’s Heyford Hill store in Oxford.
Mr Hariri said 76 per cent of people treated said they did not regularly see a dentist.
The tooth bus, which contains a dentist chair and other equipment and has a dentist and nurse on board, was jointly commissioned by NHS Oxfordshire and other Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in the south to encourage more people to get dental check-ups.
It visited Broad Street in Oxford, Littlemore, Rose Hill, Barton, Kildlington, Burford, Wheatley and Abingdon.
Mr Hariri added: “We were in Oxfordshire for a total of 70 days with staff and patients braving a whole range of weather conditions, including snow and floods.
“We are delighted with the statistics as it shows that the tooth bus has had a positive impact on those who visited it and that the oral hygiene education we have provided has had a beneficial effect.”
The free check-ups were available to Oxfordshire residents who had not visited a dentist in the last two years.
There are no current plans for the bus, which is now in Hampshire, to return to Oxfordshire.
Lack of regular attendance at NHS dentists has been a problem in the county, with Oxfordshire ranked 120th out of 150 primary care trusts across the country.
According to Department of Health statistics, only 48 per cent of adults in Oxfordshire – or 236,235 people – had seen an NHS dentist in the last two years up to March 2012.
Mr Hariri said: “Interestingly, 29 per cent said that the reason they did not visit the dentist was that “they had no pain or symptoms”.
“This is a significant statistic and also a common misconception.
“Just because a tooth is not causing pain does not mean that it is well.”
Nicky Wadely, deputy head of Primary Care Contracted Services for NHS Oxfordshire, said: “NHS dentistry is now widely available in Oxfordshire.
“Working with the tooth bus meant we were able to bring oral health messages out to local communities to raise the importance of a healthy mouth, as well as letting people know how they can find an NHS dentist.“