Here in the UK we are very lucky to have the National Health Service (NHS). Whilst it may have it’s critics and be facing its own challenges to be able to offer healthcare to the nation, few can really deny at the heart of it what it offers and how it helps and transforms the lives of the public is incredible.
Dental health comes under the NHS and allows millions to get access to subsidised checkups and procedures. Whilst many of us visit regularly, there is a large proportion of the population that do not.
Why? Well the reasons differ from patient to patient.
For some it is an acute fear of the dentist, for others it is cost (there are some fees involved for most) and others it is a lethargic approach to their dental health.
Here at Electric Teeth we are big advocates of regular checkups be that through the NHS or through private practices, because the reality is that neglect of the teeth can be more expensive and painful in the long run.
If we can help just one person improve their oral health then we feel great, but what a team of dental professionals on the South Coast of England are doing goes a lot further, helping a considerable number of people.
The Toothbus, is a 100% FREE service on offer to the public, to anyone who has not seen a dentist for 2 years.
As the name implies it is a mobile dental van, travelling all over the south, parking up in town centres and car parks allowing for patients to drop in for a checkup or to have a chat with a dental professional with any questions or concerns they may have.
We were keen to understand more about the Toothbus and how it works. So we spoke Angie Naughton, Marketing & Promotions Manager of Iosis Dental Clinic, the company who run the Toothbus.
ET: How did Toothbus come about?
AN: The Toothbus was an idea from NHS England .
ET: It is such a fantastic idea. I understand the service is commissioned by NHS England, but was it their idea and Iosis Dental agreed to operate it or was it something you pitched to them.
AN: They approached Iosis as we have another mobile dental unit that offers full service in the rural communities in Hampshire.
ET: How long has the service been running?
AN: 5 years now
ET: How is it staffed?
AN: We have a nurse a dentist and a driver who helps promote the service. They are employed by Iosis and are paid.
ET: How many patients are typically seen in a day?
AN: We can see between 15 – 40 patients a day
ET: What stops people dropping in every 6 months and getting a free checkup, rather than heading to their own dentist?
AN: The general consensus is that they can’t find a dentist taking on NHS patients
ET: What common issues do you find patients have?
AN: We collect data from the patients as to why they haven’t seen a dentist and the common theme is fear, or that they don’t have any issues with their teeth.
ET: What tends to be the reaction of those who visit and the local communities?
AN: We get a great response from local communities.
ET: Do you know of other similar initiatives across the country?
AN: There are no schemes in this country, but in the US and Australia, companies like Colgate have been doing this in rural areas for quite some time.
With ongoing concerns about the ability to access an NHS dentist, the Toothbus is a fantastic tool in providing dental care to the community. You can combine your shopping with a trip to the dentist, if you so chose.
From the homeless, to city professional the bus is there for anyone to use.
Considering this is an idea of NHS England, it would be nice to see more initiatives like the Toothbus appearing and travelling around other parts of the country.
Currently the Tooth Bus website is offline, but if you are in need of an NHS dentist, and are near to, Winchester, Godalming, Bishops Waltham, Whickham, East Meon or Stockbridge do then check out IOSIS dental clinic to help you look after your teeth.