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New technology, including video consultations, has helped dentists minimise disruption during the pandemic — and it will continue to shape, and improve, the way Bupa Dental Care delivers support and treatment in the future. Routine appointments can be delivered more efficiently and conveniently to free-up in-person consultations for more complex needs.

Dr Neil Sikka, Chief Dental Officer for Bupa UK Insurance, says, "When dental surgeries had to close during the first lockdown, one of the first things we did was to adapt our insurance product to ensure all members could continue to access a Bupa Dental Care dentist via telephone or a video consultation."

Remote assessment

Another innovation has been the increased use of remote assessment for orthodontics. Neil explains, “After their initial consultation, instead of returning to the dentist for weekly checks, patients put their smart-phone into a special scan-box and photograph their mouth from specific angles. Images are then sent to their dentist, who can monitor the movement of their teeth remotely. It’s really accurate and saves time for both the patient and the practice.”

Intraoral scanners can now be used to record accurate 3D impressions of a patient’s mouth and teeth to guide restorative procedures such as orthodontics, implants, crowns and dentures.

Instead of taking a physical mould to create a customised prosthesis, intraoral scanners capture a digital 3D-image which can be emailed directly to the laboratory, and ultimately these will be used to create prostheses.


Dental maintenance is going one step further

There has also been considerable development of smart toothbrushes, which measure how effectively someone is brushing, and provide feedback on any areas which are being missed. Better brushing brings clear benefits, with one 11-year study showing that brushing regularly with an electric toothbrush reduces gum disease by 22% and decay by 18%.1

Information about brushing can be relayed to the patient’s dentist and hygienist to tailor future care to their specific needs. With consent, brushing data can also be anonymised and shared with their insurer to help innovate products which reward good oral hygiene.

Neil says, “We don't want our insurance product just to be there simply to cover the cost of dental treatment. We want to create an ecosystem that members access to improve their oral health.” And given the strong association between good maintenance and oral health,2 this help could help to reduce future claims.

There is evidence that good oral care protects against heart disease,3 dementia4 and may impact the risk of being hospitalised with COVID-195. Anyone who has experienced tooth pain knows it can be disruptive and stressful — and studies confirm an association between poor oral health and mental illness.6


Convenient access

Apart from this broader impact on health, employers also recognise the importance of convenient access to high quality dental care to help reduce workplace absences due to dental issues, or time out of the working day for appointments.

At Bupa, we are in the unique position of having a national network of 488 dental practices and more than 2,500 dentists – alongside being one of the UK’s largest dental insurers, we’re using this scale to invest in innovation for our customers.

Alistair Adams, Global Project and Strategy Manager, explains, “The economies of scale which come with having one of the UK’s largest dental networks allow us to introduce joined-up systems to improve patient experience and care that would be impossible for an individual surgery.

“Long term we are going to see huge benefits, particularly around front-facing services and administration.” He explains, “Patients often arrive on the dot for their appointment and then have to fill in various forms. But all of that can now be done, digitally, in advance.

Customer experience is key






*Claims are forwarded by selected practices in the Bupa Dental Insurance Network as agent of Bupa Insurance Limited. Any claims for orthodontic, dental injury treatment and oral cancer cannot be processed by the dental practice and a claim form must be submitted. Also, all claims for NHS treatment in Scotland and Northern Ireland must be submitted using a claim form. For a claim form go to or call us on 0800 237 777. We may record and monitor our calls.

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