A new initiative from the Oral Health Foundation to assess and tackle problems with the way that dental emergencies are handled by A&E departments in the United Kingdom held its first meeting on Monday 9 October at the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.
The first meeting of the new Dental Review of Emergency Attendances Multi Stakeholder (D.R.E.A.M.S) Group aimed to explore the issue of patients with dental problems who go to hospital emergency departments rather than dental practices.
It is estimated that patients that seek free dental care at hospitals could be costing around £18 million each year and this remains an issue that has been vastly underestimated by the NHS.1
The meeting marked the beginning of an unprecedented initiative aiming to improve the care of patients with dental emergencies across the UK.
The Chair of the group, Dr Chet Trivedy, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Trustee of the Oral Health Foundation, explained the need for the D.R.E.A.M.S Group and what he hopes it can achieve.
Dr Trivedy said: "Thousands of people go to A&E each year with a dental problem, however, the issue is that many doctors aren't trained in dentistry and are likely to have limited experience and resources to help these patients.
"Many dental issues, such as having a tooth knocked out, bleeding from an extraction or even toothache, would be much better managed by a dentist or dental specialist but this is not always available 24/7 so we need to support our medical colleagues in A&E to manage some time critical emergencies.
"The D.R.E.A.M.S Group enables a broad range of stakeholders to come together to see how we can collectively tackle this problem and find realistic solutions which will hopefully improve the care and management of these situations."
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, also spoke of the importance of the D.R.E.A.M.S Group.
Dr Carter said: "It's crucial that our outcomes help lead to effective interventions which ensure patients get the treatment they desperately need in an appropriate setting and from appropriately skilled staff.
"We hope to not only find solutions suitable for the NHS and their A&E departments but also find ways to better educate the public about the best action to take when they have a dental emergency."
The D.R.E.A.M.S Group meeting took place on the 50th anniversary of the inception of emergency medicine, preceding a host of events and activities around the UK to mark the occasion.
Dr Trivedy added: "I feel very privileged, as an Emergency Medicine consultant and dentist, to be here at the Royal College of Emergency Medicine headquarters in London and to be holding the first D.R.E.A.M.S Group meeting during this week of celebration.
"This is an extremely complex issue, which is why it is so important to have so many different stakeholders present during these meetings."
Representatives taking part in the first meeting of D.R.E.A.M.S Group included the Oral Health Foundation, Public Health England, Department of Health, Royal College of Emergency Medicine, British Dental Association, NHS England and the General Dental Council.
"Every group has an opinion, we want to extend the reach of the campaign beyond the dental and medical professions because that will allow us to gain more perspectives on such an emotive topic," said Dr Trivedy.
"I would like to say a huge thank you to all the excellent groups and individuals who were present today because it allows us to bring together our expertise and make a huge step towards building cost-effective and sustainable frameworks to manage dental emergencies in the future."
Other members who took part in the session included the Faculty of Dental Surgery, British Society of Paediatric Dentistry, Royal College of Nursing, British Association of Dental Nurses and NHS Islington CCG.
To find more information about the D.R.E.A.M.S Group and their aims or to get involved in the group please contact Kerry Geldart, Director of Operations at the Oral Health Foundation on 01788 539 781 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.