..Itamar Friedländer, orthodontist and founder of Clínica Dental Friedländer.
With the approval of the oral health plan, the government underlines the importance of improving the oral health of an estimated 7 million Spaniards. With an investment of 44 million euros, the plan aims in particular to increase access to oral health services for minors, pregnant women, cancer patients and people with intellectual disabilities.
First of all, it is important to welcome this decision, as we will certainly see the fruits of the prevention and early care that is so necessary in the future. However, although this measure was born with the aim of improving basic dental care, only dentists in the profession know the great challenge it entails.
“One wonders if the 44 million euros allocated to this project are enough to offer an agile and high-quality service.”
It is inevitable to consider the cost of expanding free dental services. In this sense, it is worth asking whether the 44 million euros allocated to this project are enough to offer an agile and quality service. At the same time, it is questionable whether this is the best time for public debt to deal with a burden like that demanded by this initiative. Given this scenario, it is also worth mentioning the concept of immediacy, an inherent requirement of dental procedures. In other words, if it is really a question of offering a quality service, we are facing an initiative that requires a strong investment to achieve a useful and competitive infrastructure.
The major challenge of the Oral Health Plan approved by the Council of Ministers will be that public health will provide free dental care and eliminate traditional waiting lists, which are undoubtedly incompatible with oral health issues. One option that has worked well in other European countries is a commitment to public-private collaboration. For example, in Germany the state pays the dentist for every public service provided, and although the remuneration is lower than if a private service is provided, this is a very efficient alternative that allows minimizing public costs and maintaining quality standards.
“The major public health challenge of the Oral Health Plan approved by the Council of Ministers will be to provide free dental care and eliminate traditional waiting lists.”
In short, it will be important that the plan is accompanied by a strong educational component for the population on the importance of proper care and maintenance of our teeth in everyday life, in order to avoid falling into the cure of diseases rather than prevention . And in return, as a personal opinion, the government could consider hiring the professionals who are active to offer a quality service that goes beyond the free one.