Brushing up on Children’s Dental Health

Children who attend the paediatric emergency department at North Manchester General Hospital will now have better access to the most suitable type of care for their teeth.

A new referral pathway for children who attend A&E with dental problems has been introduced at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust which runs North Manchester General Hospital, in partnership with Public Health England, Pennine Care NHS FT and community dental services at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The new system will ensure that children who attend the A&E department with toothache and dental problems will now be referred to emergency dental clinics in the community via a voucher scheme which will give them priority access.

Previously children would be seen in the A&E department by doctors, rather than a dentist and would either receive immediate care for their dental issues in A&E or be referred to the oral and maxillofacial surgery team in the hospital.  Of the several hundred children who visit the department every year with toothache or a dental abscess, this is not always the correct route for their treatment as they need the expertise of a dentist, rather than a doctor.

Dr Rachel Isba, consultant in paediatric public health medicine at North Manchester General Hospital came up with the idea of joining up primary and secondary care, with the aim of ensuring children who attend A&E with a dental problem have suitable follow-up arranged in primary care with a dentist, so that hopefully fewer children will then re-attend the hospital with dental problems.

To mark the launch of the scheme at North Manchester General Hospital, every child who attends the paediatric emergency department will be given a free brushing pack during this week (commencing 7 March 2016).  Each pack contains a toothbrush, tube of toothpaste and a leaflet about how to look after your teeth.  The packs have been funded by NHS North Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Dr Isba at North Manchester General Hospital, said:

“Dental health is so important for the health and wellbeing of children, yet is easily overlooked.  This project will hopefully better ‘join up’ dental health services for children in the area and is an important step in helping to better look after children’s teeth.  We are really grateful to all of the partner organisations who have worked together to help get this project up and running, and also to the North Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group who kindly provided funding for the brushing packs.  By working together in this way I think that we will really be able to help improve the health and wellbeing of children in North Manchester.”

Dr Jim Butler, consultant in emergency medicine, said:

“We see lots of children coming to the department with toothache or other dental problems, and many more children in the local area have poor dentition.   This public health initiative is very welcome as it will improve access to appropriate services for children.  The free brushing packs during the launch will provide local children with the means and information needed to begin to improve their dental health.  Hopefully we will be able to expand this initiative across the whole Pennine Acute Trust in the future.”

Martin McCloskey is Clinical Lead for Manchester Community Dental Service which is managed by Central Manchester Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He said: “In Manchester, tooth extraction is the number one reason why 5-9 year olds receive general anaesthetics in our hospitals. Tooth decay in children is entirely preventable and by working together in providing initiatives like this, we can provide parents with the knowledge needed to prevent this happening in future generations.”

Richard Valle-Jones, clinical director for dentistry at Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is important that children receive the most appropriate care and expertise to help look after their teeth. This initiative means children will receive the correct treatment and advice throughout their care journey, to help prevent future problems. We want to make dental services as accessible and effective as possible, so Pennine Care is delighted to be working in partnership with so many organisations to achieve this.”

Pictured Dr Rachel Isba with Seren aged four and Bethan aged six from Unsworth, Bury.

Issued by: Andrew Lynn MACIPR, Head of Communication, Communication Department, The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust