An oral health crisis: the impact on people's health and wellbeing

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch North Yorks analysed 85 case studies received in March and April 2022 about the impact of poor oral health on people’s health and wellbeing.

Over one in four reported that the dentistry issues they were experiencing had a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Some respondents said the difficulties they have faced when trying to access an NHS dentist have worsened existing conditions, such as depression.

A number of respondents also said their self-esteem and confidence has diminished due to unresolved problems with their teeth, meaning they feel embarrassed about going out in public and smiling in photos.

Over two in five of the sample said the dentistry issues they are facing are having an impact on their physical health. In some cases, unresolved teeth problems have led to severe and traumatic health consequences.

Many people informed us that when they have tried to register with an NHS dentist, they are told there is no availability for NHS patients but they could be seen as a private patient. However, some treatments can cost hundreds of pounds, and many people cannot afford this option. Of this sample, 33% said dentistry has had a financial impact or has impacted on employment. This financial impact has also had a detrimental effect on people’s mental health due to the frustration and worry about having to pay for treatment.

Respondents also raised concerns about the potential long-term health impact for their child/children. The impact of not being able to access NHS dental services on children’s mental health was also mentioned.

Due to not being able to access an NHS dentist, a large majority of respondents said they had taken over the counter pain medication or had to see a private dentist where they could afford it.

The report contains two recommendations.

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General details

Report title 
An oral health crisis: the impact on people's health and wellbeing
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch North Yorkshire
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 24 May, 2022
Date evidence capture began 
Tuesday, 1 March, 2022
Date evidence capture finished 
Saturday, 30 April, 2022
Key themes 
Access
Cost of services
Health inequalities
Lifestyle and wellbeing

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
No
Primary research method used 
User stories
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 
N/A

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
Dentist (non-hospital)

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
85
Age group 
Not known
Gender 
Not known
Ethnicity 
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Yes
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
No
Does the information include staff's views? 
No
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 
Mixed

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Yes
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
No
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
No
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
 
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
 
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.