The launch of the NHS in 1948 meant, for the first time-ever, that dental care was free at the point of use, dramatically changing people's access to good oral healthcare, their expectations, and their appreciation of looking after their oral health.
The introduction of the NHS in 1948 gave the British population free access to dental treatment. There was a school dental service and a special priority service for expectant and nursing mothers, and young children that was organised by local authorities. However there was such a demand for dentures, nicknamed the dash for dentures, that a far higher proportion of the budget was spent on this than anticipated.
The poor state of British teeth had been highlighted at the end of the previous century by the British Army's recruits for the Boer War: of 208,300, there were 6,942 hospital admissions owing to dental causes, of which one third had to be sent home unfit to serve.
In 1948 the nation's dental health was in a worse state than that of defeated and occupied Germany: decay, pyorrhoea, and sepsis were rife. More than three quarters of the population over the age of 18 had complete dentures.
When the NHS opened for business on 5 July 1948, we estimate that just over a quarter of practising dentists had signed up to work in the NHS.
The demand for dental care on the new NHS was overwhelming. Dentists went from seeing around 15 to 20 patients a day to over 100. Patients had to be turned away, and hospitals also experienced a rise in cases. In the first nine months of its existence NHS dentists provided over 33 million artificial teeth, a figure that would rise to 65.5 million for the year 1950-1951.
By 1951, the NHS was already running out of money. To help alleviate this, charges for dentures, the first charges of any kind for NHS treatment, were introduced causing much debate in government and the public arena and leading to the resignation of Aneurin Bevan, the Minister who had been crucial to bringing the NHS into existence. Article by BDA, The story of NHS Dentistry, accessed 18th April 2020)
Click below for the 'The History of Natural Looking Dentures':
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About the author:
Kash Qureshi is a Clinical Dental Technician (Denturist) in the U.K who oversees and quality controls over 3000+ fixed and removable prosthesis including implant cases from a clinical and technical aspect monthly at Bremadent Dental Laboratory & Swissedent Denture Clinic in London.
www.swissedent.co.uk www.bremadent.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org