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A schoolboy who lost his front teeth and suffered serious facial injuries in a holiday water park accident has had his smile restored thanks to Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Community Dental Services team.
Louis Richards, 13, from Bridgend, smashed into a slide at a water park while on holiday with his family in Antalya, Turkey. The impact forced three of his front teeth into his nasal cavity, knocking his nose sideways. He received emergency treatment in Turkey and flew back to the UK with a medical brace protecting his teeth.
Now dramatic before-and-after pictures of Louis are being used to support other children who have suffered dental trauma.
Dr Rohini Mohan, Swansea Bay’s Clinical Lead for Community Dental Services successfully treated Louis at the Neath Port Talbot Resource Centre following the August 2019 incident - and gave him back a perfect smile.
She took pictures of him before and after the procedure using a telemedicine app that enables dentists to take data-compliant photos of patients’ teeth.
Dr Mohan said: “The pictures of Louis have been inspirational to show other children who have suffered a trauma that you can come through it. It helps their parents as well. The worst can happen, and you can still come out with a beautiful smile.
“Until they see it on the app, they don’t believe it’s possible.”
Consultant Connect, the UK’s leading telemedicine provider to the NHS, launched the innovative app with Swansea Bay UHB in March 2021– making it the first region in the UK to trial it for community dentistry.
Hundreds of patients who are vulnerable because they live in remote areas, care homes or have physical or learning disabilities have been helped.
More than 250 data-compliant photos have been sent on using the PhotoSAF function from dentists to consultants since the app was rolled out.
Dental therapists on face-to-face appointments can seek advice from specialist consultants using the photo messaging function of the Consultant Connect App. The specialist can tell them whether the patient needs to be referred to see a consultant – or that the problem is minor and can be dealt with by the dentist on the scene.
This swift decision-making saves hospitals and orthodontic specialist sites from unnecessary referrals while also ensuring vulnerable patients with genuinely serious conditions are treated quickly.
The service has also been valuable in ensuring patient records and relevant medical documents are easily imported into a patient’s notes.
And it has enabled dentists in smaller clinics which don’t have specialist camera equipment to use the app to take pictures of successful treatments which can then inspire other patients, particularly children.
Dr Mohan added: “I don’t know what we would do without it now. It’s been a life saver for us, a game-changer. We all count ourselves lucky that we’ve been the first area in the country to use this service in dentistry.
“It’s provided better outcomes to vulnerable patients because the right decisions are made quicker. And it’s been immensely beneficial to take pictures of treatments which can then be shown to other patients.”
Jonathan Patrick, CEO of Consultant Connect, said: “We’re delighted to be giving such a successful service to dentists, to consultants and ultimately to patients in Swansea Bay. These are challenging times in the health service, and we want to give all patients in Wales the best outcomes possible.”
How it works - an example case study
Sue Davies, Lead Dental Therapist for the Dental Transformation Programme, Swansea Bay UHB, works three days a week carrying out dental checks on some of Swansea’s 2,500 care home residents.
She checks for lesions inside a patient’s mouth. If she finds any, she will use the Consultant Connect PhotoSAF function to take a picture of the lesion.
She then types in the patient’s NHS number which links the photos to the patient’s records. She can add in notes using a Dictaphone feature or by typing them in. The photos are then saved to the secure cloud – and not to Sue’s phone.
The photos can then be sent to a clinical lead, such as Dr Rohini Mohan, to check if they need to be referred to the maxillofacial unit in Swansea.
Photos can also be used as a reference point to check if an ulcer is improving or getting worse.
Sue also checks areas around a patient’s nose and mouth for anything suspicious and if she finds anything of concern also sends on.
And she uses Consultant Connect to print out pictures of patients with poor oral hygiene to help with training and to show to care home managers to make sure they are aware of the issues.
She said: “The Consultant Connect App is great. I get reassurance from a consultant that I’ve made the right decision and we’re saving time and money. I would definitely recommend Consultant Connect to other dental care professionals.”