Our vote is for dental wellness! A quick look at the major parties’ dental care manifestos

Apparently there’s a general election on … We’re heartened that the major parties are committed to improving dental care in the UK. We’re 100% behind the greater focus on preventive care (which is what Well:o is all about!) We totally support instilling good oral care habits in the next generation. And yes, we believe all communities should get access to professional dentistry.

Sharing a broadly similar vision on oral health, Labour, the Conservatives & the Liberal Democrats:

  • Promise to tackle the immediate dental access crisis by unlocking more dental appointments. The Tories — as the Government — had already outlined their plans to offer a patient premium to encourage dentists to take on new NHS patients, in March ‘24’s Dental Recovery Plan
  • Acknowledge the need to rebuild UK dentistry over the long-term, making reforms to the dental contract. All parties recognise the need to retain NHS dentists. The Lib Dems want to bring dentists back to the NHS from the private sector — and suggest flexible commissioning will meet patient needs. The Conservatives plan to ensure newly qualified dentists have to work in the NHS for a number of years or pay back their training costs
  • Commit to the smiles of the next generation. As champions of preventive care, we’re particularly interested to see how either the Conservatives’ ‘Smile for Life’ programme, or Labour’s planned introduction of supervised toothbrushing for 3-to-5-year olds, impact the oral health of young people (our take on supervised brushing here). The Lib Dems also support supervised toothbrushing for young children, and want to scrap VAT on kids’ toothbrushes and toothpaste.
  • Will encourage dentists to work in underserved areas. For example, the Tories promise ‘golden hellos’ for dentists who choose to work in rural and coastal communities. And dental vans to reach all communities.

We hope whoever’s in charge come July 5th remains committed to expanding undergraduate training places. Not just for dentists, but for dental therapists and hygiene professionals, as outlined in 2023’s NHS Long-term Workforce Plan.

The obvious answer to the UK’s dental access crisis is to increase the number of dentists. But well:o believes that more accessible preventive care is the game-changer. All of us should be able to find a dental hygienist, near me.

Central to this is the empowerment of dental hygienists and therapists to operate at their full scope of practice. As we do at Well:o, where patients get ‘direct access’ to hygiene treatments led by our GDC-registered dental professionals.

(Source: Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2024; Conservative Manifesto 2024; Labour Manifesto 2024)