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How can dental services be improved? Aberdeen University looks for ‘citizen scientists’ with ideas

Members of the public can share their dental experiences on the new platform GUIDE

Members of the public are being invited to share their experiences of visiting the dentist to help improve dental healthcare.

Health researchers have launched a new online platform called Guide where people can share their views of oral and dental care.

It is hoped that “citizen scientists” will generate ideas that will help improve dental services for patients.

Guide has been developed by the health services research unit at Aberdeen University alongside teams from Dundee University, West of England Bristol University and NHS Education for Scotland.

The project is being led by Beatriz Goulao, a research fellow at Aberdeen University, who said the pandemic has had a significant effect on dental services.

She said: “Dental services have changed massively since the pandemic and with fewer opportunities to visit the dentist many people are rethinking dental self-care and assessment of their own oral health.

“We are really keen to hear ideas from the public and their experiences of oral health and dental care so that we can improve these services.

Researchers from Aberdeen University hope the platform will help to improve the implementation of best practice guidelines in dentistry. Picture by Kath Flannery/DCT Media.

The GUIDE platform is a space where people can share their views and ideas, discuss them, and vote in the ones they like the most so we can achieve real change.

“By launching the platform, we aim to put patients and the public at the centre of innovation in oral health and dental care.”

A collaborative project

The researchers hope that the new online platform will help improve “the implementation of best practice guidance” in dentistry, while offering participants the chance to learn more about oral and dental health.

Guide will gather information from the public by asking questions such as: “What makes you feel motivated to brush your teeth?” and “How can dental teams support patients in improving their oral health self-care?”

An advisory group, made up of dentists, guideline developers, patients and researchers, will identify the most feasible ideas and then refine and evaluate these moving forward.

Participants will also be given the opportunity to collaborate with the team in their future research if they wish to stay involved.

The platform will be live for the next six months before the results are presented at an event to discuss the future of dentistry.

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