Recommendations for research

The guideline committee has made the following recommendations for research.

1 Oral health promotion advice

For groups at high risk of poor oral health, how effective and cost effective is it to extend an existing appointment by a few minutes, or to offer separate sessions on oral health advice?

Why this is important

Many general dental practices already give some advice about self‑care during a patient's dental check‑up or treatment. The economic modelling suggested it might be cost effective to spend some additional time offering advice to children at high risk of poor oral health. However, there was insufficient evidence of effectiveness to reach a definitive conclusion.

Controlled studies measuring clinical outcomes are needed with children and adults at high risk of poor oral health. Studies should test out the effectiveness of separate sessions of varying length, intensity and duration and compare the results with the delivery of oral health advice during existing appointments.

2 Reducing use of emergency dental care

What interventions are effective and cost effective at encouraging people who usually only go to emergency dental services to use general dental services regularly, in a bid to improve their oral health?

Why this is important

People who use dental services for an emergency are likely to need invasive interventions such as fillings or extractions. If they had attended the dentist at an earlier stage, any dental disease could probably have been reversed, for example, by using fluoride. Or even more important, a tooth could probably have been saved or early signs of gum disease treated.

3 Behaviour change methods and resources

What behaviour change methods and resources (such as phone apps, leaflets and messaging) help dental teams to provide people with support to improve their oral health?

Why this is important

A range of materials and approaches are available to help dental teams advise patients on their oral health. But there is no evidence on the effectiveness of these materials or approaches to improve oral health.

4 Encouraging people to change their oral health behaviour

What triggers and other factors encourage groups at high risk of poor oral health to change their behaviours in response to oral health messages?

Why this is important

Some people may be more amenable to health education messages than others because of different competing demands on their lives, for example because of low socioeconomic circumstances.

Health education in itself has the potential to widen inequalities and so it is important to identify approaches that are particularly helpful for those with the worst oral health and greatest risk of disease.

5 Motivating dental practice teams to take a preventive approach

What would motivate dental practice teams to take a preventive approach to oral health – especially with high risk groups – and how does this fit into the dental practice business model?

Why this is important

General dental practices are run as businesses and practitioners are independent contractors to the NHS. Some successful NHS dental practices provide preventive dentistry, others struggle to provide these services. This is particularly the case in low socioeconomic areas, where patients attend irregularly (or cannot afford to attend) or do not place a high priority on disease prevention.