Implementation: getting started

This section highlights 2 areas of the guideline that could have a big impact on practice and be challenging to implement, along with the reasons why we are proposing change in these areas. (See the box at the start of each area.) This section also gives information on resources to help with implementation.

1 The challenge: delivering patient‑centred oral health advice

See sections 1.1 and 1.2.

Developing a patient‑centred approach is an opportunity to improve current practice and reduce health inequalities. That is why training is so important.


During their training to register with the General Dental Council (GDC), dentists and dental care professionals are required to develop the skills and knowledge needed to deliver patient‑centred oral health advice. The GDC could consider reviewing this when updating its educational requirements. In addition, as patient needs and contracts change, Health Education England could also consider what ongoing training dentists and dental care professionals need to deliver patient‑centred oral health advice. Training could:

  • Provide dentists and dental care professionals with detailed information on how to give advice on improving and maintaining good oral health, in line with recommendation 12 in NICE's guideline on behaviour change: individual approaches. This includes:

    • adopting a person‑centred approach when assessing people's needs and planning and developing a preventive care plan for them

    • communicating effectively, for example, by using reflective listening and knowing how to show empathy and develop a rapport with people

    • understanding the factors that may affect behaviour change, including psychological, social, cultural and economic factors

    • addressing health inequalities by tailoring interventions to people's specific needs, including their cultural, social and economic needs and other 'protected characteristics'

    • understanding behaviour change techniques and communication styles.

  • Help dentists and dental care professionals learn about the benefits of oral health improvement, and how to tell people about these benefits (see Public Health England's Delivering better oral health). This could include:

    • why improving people's oral health makes a difference

    • the most effective methods of delivering advice on how to improve oral health

    • the links between health inequalities and oral health

    • the needs of groups at high risk of poor oral health

    • how good oral health contributes to people's overall health and wellbeing.

  • Train dentists and dental care professionals in how to make the best use of the skill mix within their team.

  • Encourage dentists and dental care professionals to recognise their professional responsibility, throughout their career, for keeping up‑to‑date with the evidence on, and their understanding of, how to improve people's oral health.

2 The challenge: developing new incentives for general dental teams to improve people's oral health

See sections 1.1 and 1.2.

Commissioning and contracting arrangements that provide dental practices with appropriate incentives to maintain and improve people's oral health help dental teams to adopt a more preventive approach.

Encouraging a preventive approach to oral health

Dental practice teams may need encouragement to adopt a more preventive approach. Those with responsibility for planning and commissioning dental services, along with consultants in dental public health and directors of public health could:

Need more help?

Further resources are available from NICE that may help to support implementation:

  • uptake data about guideline recommendations and quality standard measures.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)