It’s been a long time since I started working in the dental industry; 19 years, in fact! When I started dental nursing, we provided predominantly NHS funded treatment – this was when it was still ‘pay per item’ – with a few private patients.
Within the first year to 18 months, it became clear that this system was not working for many practices.
This seems to be the way the dental industry is now heading, with more and more practices giving up NHS contracts and moving in the private sector.
There have been numerous headlines about this in recent months, particularly due to the impact of Covid-19 and the number of patients who have been struggling to gain access to dental care that is affordable for them.
Throughout this time and through the changes that have occurred, the thing I have noticed more and more is the high expectations that patients have of dental teams.
This is when I started to look into Dentaid. Having previously fundraised for them, I was well aware of Dentaid as a charity that worked overseas, providing dental equipment, volunteers, resources and projects all over the world.
However, I found that more and more, Dentaid are backing up the dental industry in this country; they use Mobile Dental Units (MDUs) to provide free emergency dental care to vulnerable and homeless people by visiting hostels, day centres and night shelters. What an amazing opportunity to help on a real and local level!
When I contacted Dentaid about volunteering for a UK clinic close to me, they were so helpful and kind. They provided a lot of information and requested details from me that made me realise how committed they are to providing quality care; I had to provide my GDC number and qualifications, my DBS (updated specifically for the Dentaid role), details of my vaccinations, and references.
My first clinic was in Bournemouth at a housing shelter. I met the dentist who was at the clinic, Emma who was running the diary and taking medical histories, and our MDU driver, who was also amazing at getting us cups of tea and generally looking after us.
I loved chatting to patients, hearing their stories, making them feel comfortable. I loved the entire day and the enthusiasm of the whole team. I was hooked and couldn’t wait for the next clinic.