Recall Matters

This page contains all of the core documents for “Recall Matters” a partnership project that explores the impact of people extending the intervals between Band 1 checkups in West Yorkshire.

The purpose of the project is to work with dental practices and the public to ensure dental recall intervals between routine dental check-ups fit with the guidance for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and to explore whether additional capacity can be released in NHS general dental services in West Yorkshire.  The project is supported by the Chief Dental Officer for England, NHS England, Public Health England, the General Dental Council and Healthwatch organisations in West Yorkshire.






Attending the dentist every six months has been a widely disseminated health message for many years.  However the evidence base behind this message has long been questioned (Sheiham, 1977).  NICE has published evidence based guidelines for dental recall intervals (NICE, 2004, and reviewed in February 2014).  In essence this says that the recommended interval between oral health reviews should be determined specifically for each patient and tailored to meet his or her needs, on the basis of an assessment of disease levels and risk of or from dental disease.  Adults should be seen for dental recall at intervals from 3 months to 24 months and children should be seen for a dental recall at an interval from 3 months to 12 months depending on their level of risk of oral diseases.  Patients should understand the clinical decision making to decide their dental recall interval and feel engaged in this discussion with their dentist.  Dental record keeping should support this process.

Nationally, in 2015/16, the average re-attendance intervals across England between band 1 treatment was 8.1 months.  In West Yorkshire the interval averaged 7.8 months but with significant differences between practices across the region.  At the same time, equity of access to general dental services in parts of West Yorkshire has been raised as an issue by a number of stakeholders including Public Health England.  Extending dental recall intervals for people at low risk of oral disease in line with NICE guidance has the potential to increase capacity and improve access to general dental services.

Local anecdotal information suggests that some patients expect a dental recall interval of 6 months regardless of risk.  A research study conducted by the General Dental Council found that, when patients are given information about how their dentist decides when their next check-up should be, four fifths of respondents felt comfortable in asking for a recall interval of between 9-12 months.  Extending dental recall interval for people at low risk of oral diseases based on the clinical judgement of the dentist in line with the NICE guidance would increase the availability of dental services. 



The Project

We are exploring the implementation of the NICE dental recall guidance, examining practice level data across West Yorkshire and sharing this with dental practitioners, seeking to understand the main influences on recall intervals for adults with good oral health, and exploring a range of interventions that might be expected to influence re-attendance intervals.  Amongst these is the production of a range of publicity materials communicating information about appropriate dental recall to patients and public, including leaflets, social media animations and use of conventional media.  We will be assessing if capacity can be made available within existing resources to enable more people to access NHS general dental services.

At this stage we are sharing benchmark information on recall and re-attendance intervals (band 1 to band 1) with practices on a monthly basis so that they can see their own data along with their peers.  This will be piloted until March 2018 with opportunities for dentists to feedback and say how the presentation of these data could be improved.  From April the project will be carrying out a programme of public information.