UCC joins €6m EU project on dental care practices

Researchers will work with dental professionals and insurers to prevent disease

Professor Helen Whelton, dean of the School of Dentistry, University of Leeds, and Dr Noel Woods, Centre for Policy Studies, UCC. Photograph: Tomas Tyner, UCC

Professor Helen Whelton, dean of the School of Dentistry, University of Leeds, and Dr Noel Woods, Centre for Policy Studies, UCC. Photograph: Tomas Tyner, UCC

 

University College Cork (UCC) has joined a €6 million EU research project that will bring about a shift in dental care practices from a focus on treating teeth by extraction and fillings, to more effective oral health care treatments to prevent disease.

Dental treatment costs an estimated €79bn a year across the EU, yet these diseases are almost entirely preventable.

Using anonymous data from millions of health records across Europe, researchers will work with dental professionals and insurers to identify strategies to prevent disease in each country.

The researchers will, over a four year period, provide continuous feedback to shape best practice.

Professor Helen Whelton, Dean of the School of Dentistry in Leeds cites a World Health Organisation report which states that dental diseases are the most common chronic diseases known to man.

“The hope is that, by continually assessing and giving feedback on the performance of dental professionals and healthcare systems in keeping teeth healthy, it will foster change in practices and encourage a move to more preventive dental care.

Professor Whelton says that they will be using secure, anonymous medical records to develop a model which focuses on preventing dental problems and which gives dentists and health systems the ability to measure their success in making patients healthier.

“We will be looking at things such as how long teeth remain healthy with no need for treatment or, at country level, the amount spent on extractions each year. This information can be compared across different systems and countries.”

The project will have access to the patient record databases, of six European countries including Ireland, Britain, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Hungary.

In addition to hearing the views of professionals and insurers, the project will also consult with patients in the participant countries to identify their preferences and gain their perspective on the dental care they receive.