The Sunday Telegraph
‘Slow dentists’ say it’s better to be patient in the chair
After the ‘slow food’ trend, medics’ campaign says it would be safer if all dental appointments last an hour
EXTRA time in the dentist’s chair is the last thing most patients want.
But campaigners say that is exactly what we need, as they launch a call for a national shift towards “slow dentistry”. Just as the “mindfulness” trend encourages people to pause and take stock, and the “slow food” movement emphasises quality of diet over speed, slow dentistry asks patients to take more time out of their busy lives to ensure the treatment is done properly.
The Swiss-based movement, launching in the UK this weekend, calls for dentists to slow down – claiming rushed appointments endanger patients and increase the risk of infection.
One in 20 practices inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last year broke Department of Health rules on infection control and safe premises, says data obtained by Slow Dentistry under Freedom of Information laws.
In England, NHS dentists performed 39,717,000 treatments in 2018-19 – over half a million more treatments than the previous year. A typical appointment is a 20-minute slot – although many check-ups are quicker – but the dentist behind Slow Dentistry wants all treatment appointments to last an hour.
Dr Miguel Stanley, who co-founded the movement, said it was “impossible” to carry out anti-infection measures to the highest standards in 20 minutes: “Time becomes a huge factor of practising excellence… The patient should come first, not just the business model.”
Patients also need to change their mindset, he added. “Slow Dentistry reflects a cultural shift in our speed-focused pace of life – it is a movement which aims to put the brakes on our fast-paced living and is the antithesis of the modern-day ‘I want it now’ ethos. So many of us think that we can squeeze in a dental hygiene session over lunch for 20 minutes, or quickly fix a filling. The Slow Dentistry movement is promulgating the idea that we all have to adjust our pace and time expectations. Speed is not good.”
Dr Stanley set it up with his sister Nina Blaettler, who had had a traumatic time at a clinic, after being concerned at demands on dentists to “deliver care in a pressured environment”.
He wants dentists to spend time telling patients about the treatment and how to care for their teeth. Slow Dentistry has four “cornerstones”: ensuring people give informed consent; thoroughly disinfecting the room and equipment between patients; ensuring anaesthetic is working before treatment, and using barriers such as a rubber dam to prevent infection during treatments such as root canal work.
Slow Dentistry has 20 clinics worldwide applying to join each month and has already approved five in England and Scotland. More than 200 dentists were expected at the London launch.