All dentists with national health service primary care contracts are required to provide services in accordance with relevant guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), including NICE’S clinical guideline on recall intervals between routine dental examinations. NICE recommends that this recall interval should be determined specifically for each individual patient and should be tailored to meet his or her needs, on the basis of an assessment of disease levels and risk of, or from, dental disease. The shortest recommended interval for a routine dental recall for patients is three months. The longest recommended interval is 12 months for patients under 18 years of age and 24 months for adult patients. The clinical guideline indicates that dentists should discuss the recommended recall interval with the patient and review it at the next oral health review.
The Department’s advice to patients, reflected on the Department’s website and in the patient information leaflet “NHS dentistry in England: information for patients”, is that they should follow their dentist's advice on when to go back for regular check ups. The advice indicates that, if a patient's dental health is good, they may only have to go for a check up every two years.
Information on numbers of patients who have received care or treatment from a national health service dentist in the last two years and the percentage of the population this represents is published regularly. The latest available information is for the two years ending 31 December 2006. This information is contained in section F2 of annex 3 of the NHS Dental Statistics for England Q3:31 December 2006 report which is available in the Library.
This report, published by The Information Centre for health and social care, is also available online at:
Data collected by the Department centrally does not identify the value of units of dental activity (UDAs) or provide a basis for comparisons of UDA values between primary care trusts (PCTs). PCTs set contract values and service level requirements locally. UDA values will vary because of a number of factors, including differences in treatment patterns and treatment needs in different areas, the contract values negotiated locally by PCTs and dental practices, and the degree to which PCTs and practices may have agreed service outputs that cannot be measured through patient courses of treatment.