The Scottish Government has responded to concerns over 24-month recall intervals mentioned in the Oral Health Improvement Plan (OHIP).

The OHIP follows NICE guidelines, stating that patients considered ‘low-risk’ could be seen once every two years.

A recent BDA Scotland survey found that 97% of respondents feel this would undermine oral cancer detection.

‘We have not said 24 months,’ deputy CDO, Tom Ferris, said to STV following the launch of BDA Scotland’s Oral Cancer Action plan.

‘The research said it’s a possibility.

‘That’s for the decision that will be made by the patient and dentist together about what is the best interval between check-ups.

‘So they are right to raise their concerns.

‘We will have another period where we discuss (this) with the profession.’

Welcomed assurances

BDA Scotland has welcomed the clarity, claiming 24-month recalls would place ‘needless pressure on NHS cancer services’.

Oral cancer kills three times as many Scots as car accidents, figures show.

While other cancers have seen improvements, there has been a 37% increase in oral cancer deaths in the last decade.

‘We welcome assurances that 24-month dental recall intervals will not be introduced,’ Robert Donald, chair of the BDA’s Scottish Council, said.

‘And that “high-risk” patients will be seen more frequently than those in good oral health.

‘The CDO has been explicit that it will be for the dentist and patient to jointly decide on the appropriate recall interval.

‘This will come as welcome news for patients and practitioners.

‘Our members were clear that telling “lower risk” patients to come back in 24 months would only undermine efforts to meet a growing threat, while putting needless pressure on NHS cancer services.

‘We believe that patients should ideally be seen every six months, and that “high-risk” patients should be seen more frequently.

‘We remain convinced the many worthy ambitions in the OHIP will not be achieved without new investment.’