Purpose: Historically, the healthcare needs of ’Looked After Children’ (LAC) within the UK have been relatively neglected and there is no universally adopted designated dental care pathway (DDCP) in place to ensure their care. This paper aims to discover the contribution of the community dental service (CDS) to the dental health of LAC throughout England and Wales.
Materials and Methods: An electronic questionnaire was sent to CDS Clinical Directors in England and local health boards in Wales between November 2011 and January 2012. Ten questions were included with 5-point Likert scale responses and the option for free text comments.
Results: In Wales, 41 questionnaires were returned (35% response rate) of which 37 services provided care for LAC. In England, 67 questionnaires were returned (44% response rate), of which 59 services provided care for LAC.
Conclusion: The study found that the majority of CDSs in the UK provide care for LAC, However, we cannot ascertain if the CDS is the most appropriate service to provide dental care for this group of patients. The use of DDCPs, non-attendance and other care policies varied markedly amongst respondents, which may suggest that provision of dental care for LAC within the CDS in England and Wales is inconsistent. The authors believe that the utilisation of an LAC-specific and universally accepted DDCP that has been developed could help to reduce these inconsistencies. Further surveys are planned in order to monitor the care of this vulnerable group of patients and assess the impact of these recommendations.