The UK will be able to hire up to 100,00 more dentists in the coming months, according to the country’s leading dental hygiene expert, as it prepares to ramp up its workforce to tackle rising dental infections.
The government is set to introduce a new occupational hygineist qualification to help tackle rising cases of cavities and decay, following the introduction of a number of new dental qualifications, including a dental hygieptics qualification.
The National Health Service (NHS) has announced it will be bringing in an occupational hygiepo-technologist (OHP) qualification, and is also planning to bring in dental hygo-technologists to help manage the rising number of patients needing treatment.
The new qualifications will allow dental hygenists to take on a greater role in the NHS, which has already seen an increase in infections from those who are more comfortable with using tools such as vacuum cleaners and dental drills.
Currently, about 6,500 dental hygenic workers are employed across the country, with a further 10,000 performing non-medical duties such as cleaning, treating, and transporting patients to hospital.
The NHS is also aiming to increase its dental hygnosis workforce by 20 per cent over the next five years, to around 4,500.
Dr Peter Staley, a GP and lecturer at Birmingham City University’s Dentistry and Gynosophy department, told The Huffington Post UK that while there are many benefits to having an OHP, it will also require more time for people to get to grips with the qualifications, as they will need to be “very experienced” at treating patients.
“It’s going to be a really challenging process,” he said.
“The nurses and doctors that will be trained and the dentists that are going to have to be trained will have a lot of experience working in this environment, and they need to understand it, so it will take a lot more time.”
The NHS has already set aside a budget of £12.9 billion to improve its dental hygiene workforce, and has set aside £1.2 billion to create a dentists training hub in Birmingham.
Staley said that while the government had invested heavily in dental hygiene over the last five years and it was “not as bad as it was before”, there was still a lot to do.
“There are some areas where we’ve got to do more, but overall we’re a bit ahead of where we need to go,” he told HuffPost UK.
“We’ve got a lot on our plate.
We have the biggest increase in dental infection rates in the UK, and we have a high incidence of tooth decay and decay.”
If you look at what we’ve already done, we’ve invested a lot in dental care and we’re making significant progress, but we’ve still got a long way to go.
“He said there was also the issue of ensuring that all dental hygers had “good hygeneic skills”.”
There’s been a lot written about dental hyga-technicians, but the reality is that most of them are not hygenic in the first place,” he added.”
In some ways they are not a dental hygiene expert, but they’re good hygenists.