The West Yorkshire Dental Reference Group had their third meeting on April 30th to talk about what they're doing and what they want to do for dental care in the area. The group includes people who work in dental care and others who care a lot about making sure everyone can get good dental care.

One area they talked about was specialist dental services for people who have complex health needs, learning disabilities, are homeless, seeking asylum, or children in care. These services get referrals from places like NHS 111, schools, doctors, and support workers. They're led by experts and offer special care tailored to people's needs, like using hoists for those who need them.

They also talked about how some children in poor areas have more tooth problems because they might not know how to take care of their teeth. As people get older, dental care can be harder, especially for those over 75. But a lot of dental issues can be prevented and it's important for different services to work together to help.

The community dental services provide care at home for housebound people as well as residents living in care homes. They really want to hear from the community about what they think, so they will be using networks like West Yorkshire Voice and carers to hear their views.

The group also talked about how people can get referred to dentists quickly in emergencies, the dentists available, and the challenges of finding and keeping enough dental staff. They want to encourage good oral health habits and make decisions together to make sure everyone can get dental care when they need it.

The group looked at recent surveys from West Yorkshire that showed people want better oral health, quicker dental help, and easier ways to get dental care. They think it's important to have flexible funding as this would potentially improve how people in care homes, and communities in rural or poor areas can all get help.

They also talked about setting up Citizen Juries to hear from people about important themes, like children’s oral health and accessing orthodontics. Citizen Juries are groups of people who give their opinions to help make decisions about healthcare and public health. This will be discussed at the next meeting. We will be communicating with people to get involved, including carers.

We have worked hard throughout 2023/24 to maximise the use of the dental budget. Evaluation of this will be conducted over the coming months.