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  • Tony

How can 'dentalcare' be improved?: MMIs

A potential MMI question that requires knowledge of hot topics in dentistry, current issues and the future of dentistry.

I feel that it is important to first acknowledge the difficulties that face dentists and health ministers, especially with regards to NHS dentistry in your answer. NHS dentistry is very much limited by money (which leads to staffing issues) and faces a lot of other problems discussed here. However if money was no object these are some things you could say.

The Patient

Currently, dentistry is only free on the NHS in some situations (community dentists). From standard check ups, emergency treatments and to root canal, every other part of dentistry requires some form of money which poses several problems. First, the NHS was founded upon 3 principles: to be free at the point of delivery, available to all and not based on wealth but on need. In fact dentistry was the first area of the NHS to not be free (dentures were no longer free in 1951) and this goes against the founding principles of the NHS. The most immediate problem with this is that some patients will not be able to afford dentistry and despite the fact that there are ways they can be subsidised, this just leads to lot of friction and a deterrent for them to visit a dentist- a huge shame especially with how understated the importance of dentistry really is. Solutions for this would be to make dentistry free (if money was no object) or at least more accessible and actively promote its importance. Similarly, changing costs prescriptions and dental products (toothbrushes etc) would also make dentistry more accessible.

The Dentist

Similarly, and in some ways conversely, another problem with NHS dentistry and the NHS in general is staffing issues. Partly, this is due to lack of funding (many dentists are going private) but also the UDA system (dental contracts; post linked above). As a result, there are huge waiting times for patients who actually are able to see the dentist and equally huge pressures on dentists themselves- rushed appointments, backlog of cases etc. This has led to many dentists to go private where they are more control of their schedule, are able to deliver better patient care, work in a better environment and improve upon a wide variety of their skills (such as cosmetics, which are unavailable on the NHS). Once again, solutions to this include more funding but also raising awareness of a dentistry as a career and as well as changes to the UDA system.


As with most fields, dentistry will change as a function of time. As demands change, technology improves and new problems arise, dentistry will also change for the better. I wrote a post on modern advances in dentistry here but here are some interesting areas to look into:

  • Robots and AI

  • Regrowing teeth

  • Recreating pellicle

  • Laser

  • Intraoral scanning

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