Pandemic leading to healthier smile habits finds new research

Research published by the Oral Health Foundation has found that a number of Brits took the opportunity during the pandemic to build better oral health habits. At a time when NHS dentistry is struggling to deal with the backlog of patients caused by the pandemic this is very welcome news and the Oral Health Foundation is calling on the nation to continue taking steps towards better oral health.

The survey of over 2,000 Brits found that one-in-five (20%) said that during the pandemic they had developed the habit of brushing their teeth for longer1.

This is especially good news as, on average, research shows that adults brushing their teeth for what they believe is two minutes, is as low as 54 seconds.

It is not just better brushing habits that seem to have been picked up either.  One-in-five Brits (18%) are cleaning in between their teeth with floss or interdental brushes while one-in-seven (14%) have committed to using daily mouthwash more often.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, hopes that Brits can take the charity’s National Smile Month campaign as an opportunity to build on these good habits.

Dr Carter says: “It’s great to hear that a number of us have taken the opportunity to improve our oral health during the pandemic by building better oral health habits. Brushing for two minutes, twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste is key for good oral health as well as cleaning daily between our teeth with interdental brushes or floss. Doing so ensures your teeth stay clean throughout the day and also helps keep gum disease and tooth decay at bay.

“At a time when dental practices are working hard to reduce the backlog caused by the pandemic, good oral health at home has never been so important. By keeping on top of our oral health we can really give our body a boost and reduce our chances of developing wider health issues such as diabetes, dementia, and heart disease.”

National Smile Month, which runs until 17 June, is all about the importance of good oral health and is supported by a host of major UK brands such as Invisalign, LISTERINE®, Oral-B, Corsodyl, Sensodyne, TePe, Philips and the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Programme.

In addition to brushing habits, findings from the charity’s research shows over a third (38%) of Brits are now walking more often during the pandemic while the same number are also cooking more meals from scratch.  These new insights reveal that women are more likely to use lockdown as a chance to take up healthier habits, compared to men2.

Clearly, the pandemic has got a lot of people thinking about their health and the importance of looking after our bodies. Oral health can sometimes be forgotten or taken for granted however Dr Carter hopes that this can change.

“Oral health is so important, but it can be easy to let it slip,” adds Dr Carter.

“Whether it’s forgetting to brush our teeth twice a day or not checking in with the dentist, these bad habits can easily stack up and cause a number of oral health issues. National Smile Month offers an opportunity to put the mouth back into the body and get the whole family enthused about better oral health through fun and engaging activities and events.

“Please take National Smile Month as an opportunity to assess your oral health and take steps towards a healthier and happier smile.”

For more information about our National Smile Month campaign and how you can achieve better oral health head to www.smilemonth.org. Alternatively, if you would like to receive oral health information and advice over the phone then call our Dental Helpline on 01788 539780.

REFERENCES

    1. Oral Health Foundation, ‘National Smile Month Survey 2021‘, UK, Broadcast Revolution, April 2021, Sample 2,009.
    2.  In the survey 41% of women said they were going for walks more often during the pandemic compared to 35% of men. Similarly, 41% of women said they were cooking more meals from scratch compared to 34% of men.

New report highlights concerns into Britain’s brushing habits

One-in-four (26%) British adults regularly brush their teeth only once a day, according to findings of a new nationwide poll.

The data has been collected by the Oral Health Foundation and sheds concerns about the number of people willing to skip twice-daily brushing.

The charity is especially worried by the number of people who regularly fail to brush their teeth last thing at night, when the health of the mouth is most likely to deteriorate.  Insights from the research show that one-in-four (25%) do not brush their teeth in the evening before they go to bed.

Latest figures show two-in-three (66%) UK adults have visible plaque, almost one-in-three (31%) have signs of tooth decay, and three-in-four (74%) have had teeth extracted.

The examination into Britain’s brushing habits is part of National Smile Month, a campaign by the Oral Health Foundation that aims to raise awareness about the importance of a healthy mouth.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the charity, highlights the importance of twice daily brushing and believes now is the perfect time for the UK to reassess its oral health habits.

Dr Carter says: “Twice-daily toothbrushing is the cornerstone to having good oral health because it removes plaque.  If plaque is not removed and is allowed to build up, it can cause conditions like tooth decay and gum disease.

“Brushing only once a day can increase the chances of developing tooth decay by up to a third, so setting aside time for the second brush is really important.” 

Elaine Tilling, dental hygienist and the clinical education manager for TePe Oral Hygiene Products, says: “Apart from stale bedtime breath, failing to brush before bed will also lead to poorer oral health.

“During sleep we lose the function of saliva, the mouth’s protection against tooth decay.  The night-time brush removes the daily build-up of plaque and food debris from the surface of the teeth and gums and helps to ensure that whilst the mouth is at rest, the damage potential from plaque bacteria is removed.”

Further findings from the charity’s research show that toothbrush skipping is more common in adults under 35s (31%), while men are less likely to brush their teeth twice-daily compared to women.

It also suggests that as many as one million UK adults fail to brush their teeth once a day.

The investigation also revealed that most of the population (70%) brush at least twice a day, however, one-in-ten (10%) have no set routine.

“Habits need routine to help them form and toothbrushing is no different,” adds Mrs Tilling, who believes creating a fixed routine it essential for forming healthy habits.

She says: “Brushing before bed is arguably the most important time to remove plaque and night-time is generally when we have the most time for ourselves.  Ensuring brushing and interdental cleaning before bed is crucial for good oral health.”

National Smile Month takes place until 17 June and champions the benefits of a healthy smile.  The initiative is being supported by some of the UK’s most well-known household brands, including Invisalign, LISTERINE®, Oral-B, Corsodyl, Sensodyne, TePe, Philips and the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Programme.

Throughout National Smile Month, the Oral Health Foundation and its partners are looking to support the nation in taking steps to improve their oral health.

“A healthy smile can be achieved at home with a simple and easy daily routine,” Dr Carter says.

“The most important action you can take is to brush your teeth for two minutes, last thing at night and one other time during the day, with a fluoride toothpaste.  It also means cleaning between your teeth every day with interdental brushes or floss and also cutting down how much and how often you have sugary foods and drinks.

“Dental disease is largely preventable. Following these steps will set you up on the path for a lifetime of good oral health.”

For more information about our National Smile Month campaign and how you can achieve better oral health head to www.smilemonth.org. Alternatively, if you would like to receive oral health information and advice over the phone then call our Dental Helpline on 01788 539780.

REFERENCES

  1. Oral Health Foundation, ‘National Smile Month Survey 2021‘, UK, Broadcast Revolution, April 2021, Sample 2,009.

Charity calls for funding boost to dentistry as it tops list of most delayed health services

New research collected by the Oral Health Foundation has found further evidence of an NHS dental service in crisis. The oral health charity is now calling on ministers to promptly address the issue of backed up dental appointments and provide the support NHS dentistry needs to get back on track.

A survey of over 2,000 British adults has found that almost half (45%) reported delays to their dental appointments or treatments in the last 12 months. This is more than any other health service including GP surgeries (30%), hospital services (16%) and mental health support (11%).

Latest figures suggest that as many as 20 million dental appointments have been delayed or cancelled since March 2020.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes that vital funding and support is needed for NHS dentistry to avoid the nation sleepwalking into an oral health crisis.

Dr Carter says: “Dentistry has been severely underfunded for many years and services have suffered greatly during the pandemic.  To address the backlog caused by COVID-19 restrictions, and to ensure dentistry does not fall behind other crucial health services, now is the time for government to provide more funding and invest in the nation’s oral health.

“Regular dental visits are key for maintaining good oral health. Dentists can spot oral health problems in the early stages and provide patients with advice and care that can save them from both invasive and expensive treatments later down the line.

“Dentists also conduct potentially life saving mouth cancer checks as part of every routine appointment. Many people are unaware when it comes to mouth cancer symptoms and how to look for it and therefore the only mouth cancer check they’d get is when they have their regular appointment.”

As a result of delays to dentistry over the last year, one-in-ten (12%) people have accessed remote dentistry services in the last 12 months.  This includes telephone advice, video calls and emails with their dental team.

Despite the ease of remote advice services, three-in-four (74%) say they prefer physical appointments with their dental team.  This was much higher than for general health, where just over half (59%) said that they would prefer physical appointments.

Despite a reduction in services over the last year, the charity is keen to get more Brits back into the dental chair.  Dr Carter wants to emphasise that while dental practices have suffered several challenges during the pandemic, they have adapted well and ready see more patients.

Dr Carter adds: “Dental professionals have done an excellent job adapting during the pandemic in spite of very difficult challenges.  The good news is that many dentists, dental hygienists and therapists, are now able to see fare more patients than they were last summer, and the range of treatments available should be back to normal.

“If you have not seen a dentist since the beginning of the pandemic, I would urge you to give them a call and enquire about an appointment.  Regular dental visits are crucial for maintain a good standard of oral health and can identify problems long before they become more serious.”

The research has been commissioned by the Oral Health Foundation as part of National Smile Month – a charity campaign championing the benefits of good oral health and a healthy smile.

The initiative is being supported by a wealth of some of the UK’s most well-known household brands, including Invisalign, LISTERINE®, Oral-B, Corsodyl, Sensodyne, TePe, Philips and the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Programme.

Throughout National Smile Month, the Oral Health Foundation and its partners are looking to support the nation in taking steps to improve their oral health. The charity is highlighting that while dental visits remain essential for a healthy mouth, the cornerstone to good oral health remains at home.

“A healthy smile can be achieved at home with a simple and easy daily routine,” Dr Carter says.

“The most important action you can take is to brush your teeth for two minutes, last thing at night and one other time during the day, with a fluoride toothpaste.  It also means cleaning between your teeth every day with interdental brushes or floss and also cutting down how much and how often you have sugary foods and drinks.

“Dental disease is largely preventable. Following these steps will set you up on the path for a lifetime of good oral health.”

For more information about our National Smile Month campaign and how you can achieve better oral health head to www.smilemonth.org. Alternatively, if you would like to receive oral health information and advice over the phone then call our Dental Helpline on 01788 539780.

REFERENCES

  1. Oral Health Foundation, ‘National Smile Month Survey 2021‘, UK, Broadcast Revolution, April 2021, Sample 2,009.

New data underscores need for greater awareness of dental caries amongst patients

New data published by the Oral Health Foundation and Colgate-Palmolive has discovered a concerning lack of knowledge of dental caries. The Oral Health Foundation is now calling on dental professionals to help raise awareness of dental caries amongst patients in order to improve the oral health of the nation.

Dental caries is one of the most chronic diseases in the world and is estimated to affect around 2.3 billion people globally1. In the UK, it is estimated that just under one-in-three adults suffer from caries2 – a problem which the charity believe has been exacerbated during the pandemic.

Despite its prevalence, many remain unaware of the circumstances that could lead them being at higher risk or understand how they can prevent the disease from occurring.

As part of a new nationwide omnibus survey into dental caries and fluoride, one-in-three (33%) were unable to identify ‘brushing teeth’ as an action that could prevent the disease.

Furthermore, over half of respondents (54%) did not associate ‘regular dental appointments’ to lower caries risk while and more than one-in-four (26%) did not know that ‘high carbohydrate’ diets can be responsible for higher caries risk3.

There was also a lack of awareness around the other major risk factors of caries, including older age, drying mouth, and having a history of oral health restorations.

Dr Emanuele Cotroneo, Scientific Affairs Project Manager at Colgate, is concerned that without a good basic understanding of the risk factors of tooth decay many Brits will struggle to take control of their oral health.

Dr Cotroneo says: “What this new survey data shows is a clear need for education amongst patients. Patients could be missing out on simple but really effective ways to minimise their risk of developing dental caries but are simply unaware of how their lifestyle choices are impacting their oral health.”

The survey’s findings are part of the charity’s The Truth About Tooth Decay – an online hub, created in partnership with Colgate-Palmolive. The platform hosts educational material for patients around dental caries. The site also includes a dedicated area for dental professionals with tips and tools for educating patients about the symptoms and risk factors of dental caries.

The investigation also showed that it is younger people aged 18-to-24 that have the weakest knowledge when it comes to dental caries.

Almost one-in-four (24%) 18-24-year-olds failed to highlight ‘brushing your teeth’ as an effective way to prevent caries. This is six times lower than those 55-years-old and over (4%).

Similarly, younger adults were far less likely to know that fluoride prevent caries. Less than one-infour (23%) of 18-24-year-olds think that fluoride can be used as an effective way to prevent dental caries – significantly less than those aged over 55.

While young people seem to be least knowledgeable when it comes to dental caries, they are also the keenest to receive oral health information in between appointments.

Nearly two-in-three (63%) younger adults would like to receive oral health information in between appointments with ‘email’ being the preferred method of receiving the information (65%)3.

Dr Ben Atkins, President of the Oral Health Foundation believes the results of this survey have highlighted a knowledge gap that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Dr Atkins says: “Certainly when it comes to caries, it is clear from this research that more work needs to be done to educate younger adults, both regarding prevention and what is likely to put them at higher risk. Despite this, it is encouraging that most young people are keen to learn more about this area of their health and wellbeing. It presents dental professionals with a tremendous opportunity to engage with this audience, who we know are more likely to skip brushing and regular dental visits.

“Dental professionals are a in a great position to help patients of all ages better understand their oral health. This education can not only be done in the dental chair, it can also be done digitally on social media and through e-communications. The latter has become increasingly important given the restrictions from the pandemic. Digital learning is likely to play a key role in delivering the prevention aspects of the new dental contract.”

For more information, and to check out The Truth About Tooth Decay online hub, head to www.dentalhealth.org/thetruthabouttoothdecay

REFERENCES

  1. World Health Organisation, Sugar and dental caries (2017), available online at https://www.who.int/oral_health/publications/sugars-dental-caries-keyfacts/en/#:%7E:text=It%20is%20also%20the%20most,by%20avoiding%20dietary%20free%20sugars
  2. NHS Digital, Adult Dental Health Survey (2009), available online at https://files.digital.nhs.uk/publicationimport/pub01xxx/pub01086/adul-dent-heal-surv-summ-them-the2-2009-rep4.pdf
  3. Oral Health Foundation and Colgate-Palmolive (2021) ‘Dental Caries Awareness Survey’, UK, Broadcast Revolution, Sample 2,008.

New survey explores how the pandemic has affected our smiles

New survey data collected by the Oral Health Foundation and Align Technology has found the profound impact of the pandemic on the way UK adults view their smiles.

More than half (58%) of British adults surveyed responded that they have changed the way they see their smile as a result of online video calls, with a third (33%) now more aware of the colour of their teeth and nearly a quarter (24%) more conscious about the alignment of their teeth.

The new research, released as part of National Smile Month, shows that one-in-ten (11%) UK adults feels self-conscious seeing their smile during an online meeting or video call.

Dr. Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes the growth and increased use of digital technologies has led to an increased exposure of the smile. “Physical interactions have been limited over the last 12 months, and for many, have been replaced with gatherings online. This technology has been an invaluable tool, whether it be facilitating business meetings or allowing grandparents to see their new-born grandchildren for the first time. It has also led to us seeing our own face, and smile, far more than we are used to.”

The smile is one of the most important assets we have and is how we communicate our thoughts, emotions and feelings towards one another. Because of its prominence, and importance, the smile can also be a great source of concern for some people.

“The colour and shape of our teeth are the first things we tend to notice and feeling self-conscious is quite normal.  What we must remember, however, is that the most important part of the smile, is its health” – added Dr. Carter.

A healthy mouth can be achieved through an effective oral health routine at home as well as regular dental visits. The key components of an effective oral health routine are brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes, cleaning in between the teeth daily with interdental brushes or floss and cutting down on how much and how often you have sugary foods and drinks.

Maintaining a healthy smile is at the heart of National Smile Month – a charity campaign by the Oral Health Foundation. Taking place between 17 May and 17 June, National Smile Month is an opportunity for everybody to gain more confidence about their smile by learning the basics behind having good oral health.

The Oral Health Foundation and Align Technology survey also revealed how the pandemic has affected development of new social connections.

Nearly two-in-three (58%) UK adults surveyed say smiling is important in developing friendships and relationships and believe covering the smile with face mask during the pandemic has had a detrimental effect on forming connections.

As many as 62% of female respondents confirmed that they have been struggling to form connections with others following the introduction of face masks.

Dan Parsons, marketing director UKI, Align Technology, believes that National Smile Month provides many people with a chance to reflect on their smile and take practical steps towards a healthier and happier future. “As the UKI starts to gradually ease restrictions and come out of the pandemic, many of us are finding more reasons to smile again. We are proud to partner with National Smile Month, supporting the efforts of consumers for a healthy, beautiful smile. Most people don’t realise that straighter teeth is not just about good aesthetics; they also contribute to better overall hygiene, gum health, potentially less tooth wear and overall longer and sustained tooth health.

“Our research data shows that many respondents are still hiding their smiles. If that includes you, then please take National Smile Month as your chance to change that.  By taking practical steps to better oral health – including proper cleaning and flossing, regular dental check-ups – or teeth straightening, if your teeth are crooked, you can enjoy the positive and connection-forming benefits that come with a healthy and happy smile.”

For more information about National Smile Month, including how to get involved in this year’s campaign, head to www.smilemonth.org. If anyone requires dental advice or information they can also call our Dental Helpline on 01788 539780*. The confidential Helpline is manned by oral health professionals and is open between 9am – 5pm from Monday to Friday.

*Calls are charged at your standard network rate

REFERENCES

  1. Oral Health Foundation, ‘National Smile Month Survey 2021‘, UK, Broadcast Revolution, April 2021, Sample 2,009.

Oral health charity welcomes GDC statement on DIY orthodontics

The Oral Health Foundation welcomes the General Dental Council’s (GDC) fresh statement on direct-to-consumer orthodontics, also called DIY orthodontics. The charity believes that this announcement solidifies the critical role a trained dental professional plays in orthodontic treatment and underscores the importance of a physical face-to-face examination.

In recent years there has been an increasing demand for orthodontic treatment and specifically clear aligner treatments. Unfortunately, along with this rise we’ve also seen people increasingly look for ways to cut corners when it comes to orthodontic treatment in order to cut the price. This has led to the rise of direct-to-consumer orthodontics, also referred to as DIY orthodontics. These treatments are carried out remotely, with patients often not seeing a dental professional in person at any stage. The patient may also be asked to take on responsibility for certain steps in the treatment plan such as taking impressions of their teeth as well as photographs.

In response to this rise the GDC has now clarified that “clinical judgements about the suitability of a proposed course of orthodontic treatment must be based on a full assessment of the patient’s oral health. At present, there is no effective substitute for a physical, clinical examination as the foundation for that assessment”.

The GDC’s statement also went on to confirm that direct-to-consumer orthodontic treatments using clear aligners fall within the legal definition of dentistry meaning they can only be legally performed by a trained dental professional registered with the GDC.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, hopes this clear stance from the GDC will send a warning sign to anyone thinking of trying DIY orthodontics.

Dr Carter says: “When it comes to orthodontic treatment the input of a trained dental professional is key if both the patients’ expectations are to be met and also to ensure safety. Innovation in orthodontic treatments is always welcome however it must not come at the expense of patient safety or effectiveness. What this statement from the GDC emphasises is the role professional orthodontists play in providing safe and effective treatment. It also underscores the need for a physical examination in order to be able to effectively assess a patient.”

The Oral Health Foundation has long been aware of the need for patients to be able to make informed and safe decisions when it comes to orthodontic treatment. That is why the charity set up SafeBrace in partnership with the British Orthodontic Society. The campaign aims to offer the public independent and impartial information and advice about all things orthodontics. This includes the processes involved and how to get orthodontic treatment in a safe and effective manner.

The British Orthodontic Society also agree that this statement from the GDC around DIY orthodontics is a step in the right direction.

Director of External Relations, Anjli Patel says: “The GDC’s announcement is about the most fundamental element of healthcare – patient safety. We are delighted that our concerns have been heard by the GDC and acted upon. However, as the voice of orthodontics in the UK, we still have reservations about how any wrongdoing by DIY orthodontic companies could be picked up by authorities and we don’t want patients falling through regulatory cracks. Patients don’t know what they don’t know – we will endeavour to give them all the facts.”

For more information about orthodontics and the SafeBrace campaign head to www.safebrace.org. Alternatively, if anyone would like oral health advice they can call our Dental Helpline by calling 01788 539780*. The confidential Helpline is open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

*Calls are charged at your standard network rate

New dental survey of children highlights stark inequalities in England

A dental survey of three-year-olds in England has revealed stark oral health inequalities within England. The Oral Health Foundation, a leading oral health charity, believe community water fluoridation holds the key to bridging the gap and are calling on the government to act.

The report investigated nearly 20,000 three-year-olds from across England and found more than one-in-ten (10.7%) already have tooth decay.  On average, each child had three decayed teeth.

The survey also highlights regional differences amongst young children. Three-year-olds living in the Yorkshire and Humber are more than twice as likely to experience tooth decay (14.7%) than children living in the East of England (6.7%).

Dr Ben Atkins, President of the Oral Health Foundation, believes these statistics highlight an urgent need to address the oral health of children in this country and would like the government to do more.

Dr Atkins says: “These statistics are worrying indeed, especially when looking at the stark regional differences. The last survey of this nature was carried out in 2013 and since then very little progress has been made. This stagnation is due to a lack of action and clear direction from government, both at a local and national level, when it comes to addressing oral health inequalities in the UK.

“As a charity, we believe that community water fluoridation holds the key to improving the oral health of children up and down the country. Under new NHS reform plans announced earlier this year, the government pledged to take back control of community water fluoridation in order to make the process of implementing schemes both more efficient and less costly.

“We need to hold the government accountable for this and hope that in years to come we will see more and more community water fluoridation schemes.”

Fluoride has been researched extensively for decades now and has been found time and time again to be very effective in protecting teeth from decay and erosion. When added into the water supply studies have shown it can reduce tooth decay by up to 35%.

The charity believes water fluoridation would be especially effective for those living in more deprived areas where access to dental care may be limited.

The report also revealed that children living in the most deprived areas of the country were almost three times as likely to have experience of tooth decay (16.6%) as those living in the least deprived areas (5.9%).

Dr Ben Atkins concludes that, whilst we wait to see improvements made, everyone can take steps to better their oral health by following a strong oral health routine at home.

Dr Atkins says: “There is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to addressing oral health inequalities in this country. However, while we strive towards that goal, we would encourage everyone, including children,  to brush their teeth with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes twice a day.  This, along with cleaning in between your teeth daily, can set you and your children up with a healthy smile for life.”

For more information on the importance of good oral health, as well as the benefits of fluoride, visit the Oral Health Foundation’s website at www.dentalhealth.org.  Furthermore, if anyone requires dental advice then they can contact our Dental Helpline on 01788 539780. The Helpline is staffed by trained dental professionals and is open from 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. Calls are charged at your standard network rate.

New report claims millions of Brits are at increased risk of tooth decay

More than 45 million British adults are at an increased risk of tooth decay, according to a new report.1 Figures collected by the Oral Health Foundation and Colgate-Palmolive show that more than four-in-five (84%) of all adults in the UK fall into groups that put them at higher risk of the disease.1

The research found that one-in-five (21%) Brits have ‘moderate-to-high’ sugar diets, have not visited a dentist in the last two years (21%), or do not brush their teeth twice a day (19%) – all of which increase a person’s chances of developing tooth decay. 1

Tooth decay can lead to expensive fillings, root canal treatment or a person needing to have a tooth extraction.

The latest data from NHS Digital shows there are 9.7 million band two treatments in England a year. These include fillings, root canal work and extractions.2

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation says tooth decay can have a devastating effect on a person’s quality of life and more must be done to reduce the number of people affected by the disease.

Dr Carter says: “Tooth decay remains the most common chronic disease in the UK, yet it is entirely preventable. Anybody can suffer from tooth decay but there are a few things that can increase the risk.

“Tooth decay is caused by poor oral hygiene, as well as eating or drinking too much sugar too often. It is also linked with not having regular dental check-ups.

“Those on medications containing sugar or that cause dry mouth can also put a person at greater risk. We also know that diabetics and orthodontic patients are also more likely to have tooth decay. Together these makes up a significant proportion of the population.

“In its early stages, tooth decay can cause mild pain, but in extreme cases it can have a debilitating impact on a person’s life. For a better quality of life, it is critical to know how identify tooth decay in the early stages or prevent it from happening at all.”

Toothache and tooth sensitivity to sweet things are two of the most likely signs of tooth decay. Dark spots on the surfaces of the teeth and an unpleasant taste in the mouth are further signs to look out for.

“If anybody falls into one of the high-risk groups, or notices the early signs of tooth decay, they should book an appointment with their dental team for an assessment,” adds Dr Carter. “They will be able to help somebody lower their risk and offer a range of different options for preventing and treating tooth decay at home or while at work. One of which may be prescribing a high fluoride toothpaste.”

In the UK, around eight-in-ten adults have one or more teeth with decay, that are filled or have been pulled out due to decay. It is also extremely common in children, with more than one-in-five showing signs of tooth decay.3

To help more people identify their risk of tooth decay and how to spot the early warning signs, the charity has partnered with Colgate-Palmolive to launch a new educational campaign. The initiative, The Truth About Tooth Decay also gives advice for preventing the condition.

Scientific Affairs Project Manager at Colgate Emanuele Cotroneo, highlights the importance of preventing tooth decay.

Dr Cotroneo says: “The best way to prevent tooth decay is by brushing the teeth thoroughly last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, with a 1450ppm fluoride toothpaste. This should take around two minutes.

“When brushing, make sure the inner, outer and biting surfaces of the teeth are brushed carefully, and remember to brush along the gumline. Using ‘interdental’ brushes, or dental floss or tape, also helps to remove plaque and food from between the teeth. These are areas an ordinary toothbrush can’t reach. Daily use of a fluoride mouthwash in between brushing can also help.”

The Truth About Tooth Decay can be found at www.dentalhealth.org/thetruthabouttoothdecay.

For anybody looking for help or support with their oral health, the charity also has a Dental Helpline which offers free advice. You can call the Dental Helpline on 01788 539780 or email helpline@dentalhealth.org.

REFERENCES

  1. Oral Health Foundation and Colgate-Palmolive (2020) ‘Dental Caries Awareness Survey’, UK, Broadcast Revolution, Sample 2,008.
  2. NHS Digital (2020) ‘NHS Dental Statistics’, online at https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/nhs-dental-statistics/2019-20-annual-report#related-links, accessed on January 2020.
  3. Office for National Statistics (2009) ‘Adult Dental Health Survey’, online at https://www.ukdataservice.ac.uk/media/428503/osullivanadhs.pdf

New proposals on water fluoridation offers fresh hope for nation’s oral health

The Secretary of State Matt Hancock has confirmed plans for radical NHS reforms which include proposals to remove the barriers to water fluoridation schemes in the UK. The proposals are welcomed by the Oral Health Foundation who have been lobbying for water fluoridation to be extended for many years.  If implemented this will help ease the process of water fluoridation for local communities and give the oral health of the nation a much needed boost.

The addition of fluoride to water has been researched for over 75 years, and water fluoridation has been proven to reduce decay by 35%1. Fluoride can greatly help dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay.

The draft bill, entitled ‘Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all’, lays out plans for the government to take responsibility for the funding and implementation of water fluoridation, putting it in a position to drive forward and implement schemes.

Currently, some six million people in the UK receive a fluoridated water supply.  Those in areas with fluoridated water have be shown to have lower rates of decay than those without.

At present decisions on water fluoridation sit within the powers of local authorities.  There has been little progress in expanding the UK’s adoption of water fluoridation since the late 1980s.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes central government taking responsibility for implementation and costs of water fluoridation by central government could have a profound impact on the UK’s oral health.

Dr Carter says: “In recent years we have seen water fluoridation proposals repeatedly stall at local authority level due to high cost, competing demands, and limited budgets. All the while, tooth decay continues to be the most common chronic disease in the country. 

“Children’s oral health also continues to suffer.  Tooth extractions, most of which caused by decay, remains the most common reason for hospital admissions of five-to-nine year-olds in the UK.  Yet this is a totally preventable disease.

“Tooth decay comes at a tremendous cost to the economy.  Around two million people in the UK have taken time of work in the last five years due to poor oral health, at a cost to businesses of more than £35m a year.

“As a dental practitioner in Birmingham I saw first-hand the benefits to children’s oral health of water fluoridation.  Working on the borders of fluoridated Birmingham and the then non-fluoridated Sandwell we could tell which side of the dividing road children came from based solely on their decay experience.

“We believe that water fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure there is for reducing oral health inequalities and tooth decay rates, especially amongst children. We welcome these proposals and believe they represent an opportunity to take a big step forward in not only improving this generation’s oral health, but those for decades to come.

“We wait in anticipation for progress to be made towards that goal but while we do, we would encourage everyone to brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. This gives your teeth the boost of fluoride that they need.”

For more information on the benefits of fluoride visit the Oral Health Foundation’s website at www.dentalhealth.org.

REFERENCE:

  1. Iheozor-Ejiofor Z, Worthington HV, Walsh T, O’Malley L, Clarkson JE, Macey R, Alam R, Tugwell P, Welch V, Glenny A. Water fluoridation for the prevention of dental caries. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD010856. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010856.pub2

Janet Goodwin Memorial Fund lauched to support the future of dental nursing

When former Oral Health Foundation President Janet Goodwin sadly passed away in October 2020 she left behind a great legacy.  It is in recognition of this that the Oral Health Foundation have joined together with the British Association of Dental Nurses (BADN) to launch the Janet Goodwin Memorial Fund.

An influential figure within oral health, Janet spent much of her career championing the importance of education and the career development of dental nurses.  It is for this reason that it seemed only fitting for a memorial fund be set up in her name to further that cause.

The Janet Goodwin Memorial Fund will support dental nursing students and registered dental nurses with bursaries for the development of their careers. For dental nursing students, this might take the form of financial help with their education, while qualified dental nurses can apply for support with post-graduate studies.

The Oral Health Foundation and BADN hopes the new series of grants can help provide much needed financial support for individuals pursuing a career in dental nursing.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes the fund goes straight to the heart of Janet’s work.

Dr Carter says: “I would like to think Janet would be really proud by a project like this. During her distinguished career, Janet battled hard for her profession and made fantastic strides in boosting the visibility of dental nursing amongst the profession and the public.

“Janet was a terrific ambassador for her fellow dental nurses and what better way to honour that than through a fund which will help dental nurses further their careers. By providing support for our future dental nurses, as well as current ones, this fund will help secure a stronger and brighter future for dentistry as a whole.”

Janet was used to breaking down barriers during her career and was passionate about improving the oral health of people up and down the country.

In 2015, Janet became the first dental nurse to be elected President of the Oral Health Foundation in the charity’s nearly 50-year history. She also was the first dental nurse admitted to the General Dental Council. Always looking for new challenges, Janet was also Chair of the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses – on the second dental nurse to hold that position – and later employed by the NEBDN as Qualifications Manager.

Janet was a long-time active member, and Fellow, of the British Association of Dental Nurses and was also a recipient of their ‘Outstanding Contribution to Dental Nursing Award’.

Jacqui Elsden, President of the British Association of Dental Nurses, adds: “It is without doubt that Janet will be truly missed across the Dental community. She was a wonderful advocate for our dental nursing profession, particularly for dental nurse education and oral health care.  I feel immensely proud to be part of the collaboration leading to the founding of the Fund in her memory. It will be a unique opportunity for dental nurses to begin or further their career in dental nursing and inspire a new generation.”

To find out more about the Janet Goodwin Memorial Fund and to make a donation, visit www.dentalhealth.org/janetgoodwin.