Campaign launched by leading dental bodies to drive ETW screenings as part of routine oral exams

Leaders of the Erosive Tooth Wear Foundation, Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK), British Society of Dental Hygienists and Therapists, Dental Protection Society, and King’s College London have announced the launch of a joint campaign in partnership with GSK, the makers of Pronamel, to drive awareness of erosive tooth wear (ETW). 

Despite being the third most commonly observed oral condition, affecting up to 30% of European adults, and not requiring a drill to fix, UK research shows that ETW is currently not routinely screened or monitored as part of the standard dental examination. 

These leading experts are calling on the dental profession to use the basic erosive wear examination (BEWE) alongside the basic periodontal examination (BPE) as part of every oral assessment to prompt early identification and prevention. As it follows the same sextant approach as the BPE, BEWE can be conducted at the same time, therefore requiring little additional clinical time. 

Although the condition may have a slow rate of progression, the impact on aesthetics and function, as well as the financial implication of restoration, can be significant. According to a study by O’Toole et al., costs could be up to £31,000 for private treatment and the average treatment took 21 months. 

Reports show that the rise in snacking culture and the popularity of fresh fruit and fruit juices has significantly increased the risk of developing ETW, especially when they are consumed outside of meals. Odds ratios for example increase nearly 12-fold when acidic drinks are consumed on two occasions outside of meals, highlighting how modern diets and lifestyles have a substantial role to play. 

Dr Soha Dattani, Director of Scientific Affairs at GSK, commented: “Our modern snacking culture, coupled with an ageing population who retain their teeth for longer, means that ETW is a rapidly increasing risk. As ETW may have considerable aesthetic, functional and financial implications, there is a need to protect the patient and the professional through early identification and patient counselling for prevention. 

“To tackle the issue head on, we’ve gathered the UK’s leading dental bodies to jointly highlight the effects of ETW and the need to change the way we as a profession approach it. As a healthcare company committed to helping patients to do more and live better, GSK is proud to support and be involved with this important initiative and to lead the way on tackling ETW for current and future patients.” 

Reiterating just how common ETW is, Professor David Bartlett, Head of Prosthodontics and Graduate Training at King’s College London’s Faculty of Dentistry, Oral and Craniofacial Sciences, added that its prevalence is increasing. “The BEWE was designed specifically for use in general practice, it is a simple tool, which can be used alongside the BPE, to help screen for signs of the condition and prompt preventative discussions with patient,” he explained. 

“The BEWE is a quick, simple and effective way to assess tooth wear and could undoubtedly benefit both patients and practitioners,” noted Ian Mills, Dean of the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK). “Our profession is committed to delivering excellence in patient care. Modern lifestyles and eating habits present a range of challenges including the potential rise in ETW. Just as we do with caries and gum disease, we need to ensure that ETW is routinely monitored and patients are informed.” 

Nairn Wilson, Emeritus Professor of Dentistry, King’s College London and Chair, Board of the College of General Dentistry, explained how it is important that all practitioners are up to date on the condition and are assessing patients for signs and risk factors. “For more established practitioners this may mean a need to change well-established examination routines and update knowledge to prevent any future risk of claims of supervised neglect.” 

Dr Saoirse O’Toole, Clinical Lecturer in Prosthodontics at King’s College London’s Faculty of Dentistry, Oral and Craniofacial Sciences, meanwhile highlighted how Patients are often referred to the hospital for treatment “It is because early signs may not have been identified and changes to behaviour have not been discussed with patients. Simple advice, such as limiting the number of acidic drinks you have and switching when you have them to mealtimes may make a real difference in reducing patient risk.” 

Diane Rochford, President Elect of the British Society of Dental Hygienists and Therapists, agreed: “As a profession, dental hygienists and dental therapists are traditionally identifying patients with adequate plaque control as an indicator of optimal oral health. We need to raise awareness that this is an exception, ETW generally occurs in patients who maintain optimal plaque control on a daily basis. Routine use of the BEWE alongside the BPE can efficiently and effectively identify patients at risk.” 

“It is important to record signs of tooth wear as part of the hard tissues examination and to monitor the rate of progression,” argued Dr Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection. “From a dento-legal point of view, the records should also indicate the preventative advice offered and the patient’s compliance with that advice. The value of comprehensive clinical records in defending dental claims cannot be overstated.’ 

ETW becomes even more critical as many of us retain our natural teeth later in life, according to Nigel Pitts, Professor of Dental Health and Academic Lead for Impact at King’s College London’s Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences. ““With more people retaining their natural teeth later in life it is critical that prevention and control of potentially destructive conditions such as ETW is prioritised.” 

Comprehensive educational resources for both the clinician and patient to support this campaign are available via the Erosive Tooth Wear Foundation website and 

Stress-free working environment to end sugar binges

New research reveals that more than a quarter (28%) of British adults turn to sugar when put under stress. With half of workers reporting feeling stressed in their jobs, the Oral Health Foundation is calling on employers to do more to help combat stress and offer more support to their employees to maintain good oral health.

According to the charity’s research, those in work can be significantly (up to 28%) more likely to binge on sugar than those out of work.

Evidence suggests that office workers are the most likely to eat sugary foods and drinks (32%) as a result of stress. Senior professionals like doctors, lawyers and accountants are also at higher risk (31%).

For many years, ‘comfort eating’ has been seen as an excuse to consume unhealthy sugary and fatty foods. In recent decades, scientific studies have found that comfort eating is actually hormone-related and fuelled by our body’s biological response to stressful situations. When put under stress, our body releases a hormone called Cortisol which increases our appetite.

Once ingested, fat and sugar-filled foods seem to have a feedback effect that dampens stress-related responses and emotions. These foods really are ‘comfort’ foods in that they seem to counteract stress — and this may contribute to people’s stress-induced craving for those foods.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes that businesses need to be more proactive when it comes to combating the effects stress can have on their employees.

Dr Carter says: “Ultimately it is to the employer’s benefit to tackle unhealthy comfort eating as a result of stress, especially as it is happening on work premises so frequently. Desk snacking, communal treat tables and vending machines, often filled with sugary foods and drinks, are the biggest contributors to the problem. This is causing oral diseases such as tooth decay, as well as wider conditions like diabetes and obesity.

“It is important to encourage healthy eating and to develop a more tooth-friendly culture in the workplace. Snacks such as cheese and nuts are better than sugary treats. Milk and water is a great substitute for juices and fizzy drinks while reducing the amount of sugar added to tea and coffee can make a big difference.

“By helping employees look after their oral health, the workforce will not only be healthier, they will be happier too. Importantly, it will reduce absenteeism for oral health issues, which has become a growing issue in recent years.”

The charity has found that around one in seven (15%) people have taken sick leave in the last two years to due to an oral health problem. The OHF estimates that this equates to UK businesses losing 3.6 million hours of labour every year and £52 million for the economy.

“Stress in the workplace can be difficult to avoid but with good provisions in place and proactive measures from employers, the effects of stress can be limited,” adds Dr Carter.

“By encouraging employees to look after their oral health, and to have tooth-friendly workplace snacks, not only will employers have a happier workforce but also a healthier, more productive one too. It is also important to allow employees to attend regular dental check-ups. All these measures will reduce unforeseen absenteeism in the future.”

New research finds link between gum disease and erectile dysfunction

More time in the bathroom could lead to extra hours in the bedroom:

Don’t go soft on your oral health routine – that’s the message from the Oral Health Foundation after new research finds a link between gum disease and erectile dysfunction.

The study, published in the Journal of Periodontology, reveals that men with severe gum disease are more than twice as likely to suffer from impotence compared to those with healthy teeth and gums.1

The first study of its kind that involved a European population examined more than 150 men, and researchers were able to determine that three in four (74 per cent) with erectile dysfunction also had poor oral health.

In response to the findings, the Oral Health Foundation wants to emphasise the links between advancing gum disease and issues in other parts of the body and believes the benefits of taking better care of your gums can go far beyond a healthy mouth.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said: “As startling as these findings may be, it may turn out to be a wake-up call for men to start paying greater attention to their oral health, particularly their gums.

“In recent years, gum disease has been linked with conditions like diabetes, stroke and heart disease but an increased risk of coming up short in the bedroom may be the final straw for men who might have been reluctant to spend a little extra time looking after their gums.”

Gum disease happens when the tissues supporting the teeth swell and become sore or infected. If you fail to treat it in it’s early stages, the disease will continue to worsen, and can result in tooth loss.

Finding blood on your toothbrush or in the toothpaste you spit out after brushing is a common symptom of the condition. Your gums may also bleed when you eat, leaving a bad taste in your mouth.

“Fortunately, gum disease is an entirely preventable and treatable disease but avoiding it and lowering the risk of poor performance in the bedroom requires an effective and consistent oral health routine,” Dr Carter added.

“Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning in between your teeth once a day using interdental brushes and maintaining regular visits to the dentist are the best way to avoid or treat gum disease.

“It takes a relatively small amount of time to give your teeth and gums the care they need and falling short of that can really leave you in a difficult position later in the day.”

The research also says that treating gum disease by reducing inflammation of the gums can result in improved erectile function.

As well as being able to treat any signs of gum disease before it develops into a more serious issue, regular dental visits can also remove plaque and tartar from your teeth, as well as give your mouth a fresh bill of health.

For more info or advice visit

  1. Martin A, Bravo M, Arrabal M et al. (2018) Chronic periodontitis is associated with erectile dysfunction. A case-control study in European population. Wiley: Journal of Clinical Periodontology. 2018;45:791-798.

Special feature: Stress and oral health

Dentist and bacteriologist Dr Harold Katz looks into the relationship between stress and oral health…

April 2018 marked the launch of Stress Awareness Month and the Mental Health Foundation states “research has shown that around 12 million adults in the UK see their GP with mental health problems each year. Most of these suffer from anxiety and depression and much of this is stress-related”.

Dentist, bacteriologist, and founder of The Californian Breath Clinics and The Breath Company, Dr Harold Katz, answers questions about how stress can impact your oral health.

What oral hygiene problems can be attributed to stress?

Dr Katz says: “It is well documented that stress can have a huge impact on our general health and can cause a plethora of physical conditions such as heart disease and obesity as well as serious mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Specifically, when taking our oral health in to account, stress can really take its toll and be attributed to various oral health issues including bad breath, gum disease and mouth ulcers to name a few.”

How does stress cause halitosis?

It is estimated that 50 per cent of the population has bad breath. When individuals find themselves in high-stress circumstances, their bodies react by using the sympathetic nervous system as a form of protection. This system essentially triggers the fight-or-flight response mechanism, providing you with a boost of energy so you can react quickly to the situation. In cases of chronic stress, your body is kept in “fight or flight” mode and conserves energy by turning off certain digestive functions such as the production of saliva. The mouth then produces a lower level of saliva – saliva is mandatory for moistening food for easier digestion, but the body deems it unnecessary in critical situations.

Saliva evaporates and the mouth becomes dry, leading to bad breath. This happens because the odorous gases created by bacteria in the mouth, which are generally suppressed by spit and swallowed away, are free to be released into the air. Additionally, bacteria are much more likely to stick to the surfaces of a dry mouth, which can further enhance the sour smell. Drinking plenty of water, chewing sugar-free gum and rinsing with a non-alcohol mouthwash can help to minimise the effects of stress related halitosis.

How can stress cause gum disease?

A small amount of blood in the sink when you clean your teeth might not seem like a big deal, but consistently bleeding gums should not be ignored. Bleeding gums are a visual symptom of gum disease, which can be caused by stress. There are a few factors that link stress to bleeding gums and the onset of gum disease. Firstly, when the body is under stress it produces elevated amounts of the hormone cortisol, which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. When cortisol is produced peripherally in the gums, it stimulates mast cells to produce more proteins, simultaneously increasing inflammation and the progression of gum disease. In addition, individuals with high stress levels tend to adopt bad oral hygiene and lifestyle habits, and this in turn can have a negative impact on their oral health. If gum disease isn’t in advanced stages then good oral hygiene habits can reverse it so it’s essential to adopt a robust oral hygiene regimen coupled with regular trips to your dentist who can offer sound advice on correct brushing and flossing techniques.

How can stress cause mouth ulcers?

Chronic stress suppresses the immune system and can leave you open to disease and infection. Mouth ulcers are one example of this and although are relatively harmless can make life unbearable when eating, drinking, speaking or swallowing. They occur on the inside of the mouth and are white or yellow surrounded by a dark red area. Minimising your exposure to stressful situations and adopting some simple lifestyle changes can reduce your chances of developing moth ulcers.

How can I minimise stress and its effects on my oral health?

Stress can often be an unavoidable part of modern day living, but that can really hinder your day-to-day life. You can help to minimise the impact that stress has on your oral health by adopting the following:

Start with some lifestyle changes. Stress can often lead us to make bad lifestyle choices that will impact our oral health. Limiting consumption of sugary foods and drinks, alcohol and quitting smoking will all contribute to healthier gums and mouth. Smoking in particular dries out the mouth and can lead to gum disease as a result of bacteria and toxins causing plaque to form in the mouth.

Exercise. Fitting exercise into your lifestyle will do wonders for your stress level. When you exercise, you’re using physical activity to shed the mind of stressful thoughts. Regularly practicing yoga for example, may be great for the body and mind. Similarly, deep breathing exercises can be very beneficial, and any form of exercise may boost endorphin production and help you better handle your emotions in high-tension situations.

Adopt a robust oral health regimen. Brush and floss regularly but avoid harsh soap in toothpaste. Brushing helps eradicate the plaque and bacteria on your teeth, however some toothpaste contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), a soapy detergent that creates foam but has no cleaning benefit. The additive has recently been linked to serious side effects including canker sores. Flossing is an extra step, but it’s an important one, as it helps gets in between the teeth where toothbrushes sometimes miss. In addition, regular and specific application of alcohol-free mouth rinses such as The Breath Company Healthy Gums Oral Rinse will help calm the gum area and work to both eliminate germs associated with gum disease and reduce the formation of biofilm, which leads to plaque and tartar build-up. It’s important to steer clear of alcohol-based mouthwashes as these can cause dry mouth, and just mask odours rather than killing off bacteria.

Stay hydrated throughout the day. The fight-or-flight reaction to stress can make you dehydrated and this leads to dry mouth and bad breath bacteria forming which can both contribute to the onset of halitosis gum disease. If you keep your mouth and body well hydrated, you will minimise the chance of developing dry mouth that can lead to these problems.

Talk to your dentist and make regular check-ups. They are the very best source of advice and will be able to check for any signs of any stress-related gum disease and bad breath issues. In addition, they will be able to offer advice on how to prevent stress affecting your oral health and put in place a care plan that is bespoke to you.

Dr Harold Katz is a dentist with an advanced degree in bacteriology and a lifelong advocate of good oral health. He is the founder of The California Breath Clinics and the developer of the The Breath Company line of premium oral care products, and the internationally recognised expert in the fields of bad breath, taste disorders, tonsil stones and dry mouth. Known as the ‘Bad Breath Guru’ due to his numerous television appearances on US television shows, he has helped millions of people around the world eliminate their bad breath problems.

Dr Katz is a graduate of the UCLA School of Dentistry. In the 1970s he established a thriving dental practice in Beverly Hills, California and he has perfected his dental techniques while working with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Oral Health Foundation: “Decision to finally offer boys a HPV vaccination is one which will save many lives”

The decision to offer boys a vaccination against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), announced yesterday by Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been hailed by the Oral Health Foundation as a decision that will save thousands of lives every year.

The charity believes the decision, which has been under consideration since 2013, will lead to many lives being saved due to the vaccination’s ability to prevent HPV related mouth cancer, as well as other life-threatening diseases.

Under the current programme almost 400,000 boys go unvaccinated every year, which has millions at risk of developing HPV related cancers later in life – cancers which are on the increase.

Dr Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, discussed this momentous ruling: “This decision has been an incredibly long time coming and one we firmly believe it will be a significant moment in the ongoing battle against many types of cancer in the UK.

“This decision brings to and end what has been a dangerously discriminatory and unfair HPV vaccination programme in Britain, which has left millions of boys and men unprotected from the biggest sexually transmitted infection in the world.

“HPV is one of the leading causes of mouth cancer; but now we hope that with the swift implementation of the vaccination programme we will see a significant reduction in these numbers.

“Since 2008, girls have been offered a HPV vaccination through a school based programme to protect against cervical cancer, but this has been proven to offer little protection for men from life-threatening diseases caused by HPV; including mouth, penile and anal cancers as well as genital warts.”

Every year more than 7,500 Brits are diagnosed with mouth cancer, with the disease claiming in excess of 2,000 lives – more than testicular and cervical cancer combined.

“There has also been overwhelming support for the vaccine from health professionals and public alike,” added Dr Carter.

“A recent poll from campaign group HPV Action discovered that 97 per cent of dentists and 94 per cent of GPs believe that the national HPV vaccination programme should cover both boys and girls, we have also seen roughly 84 per cent of the public support an extended vaccination programme.

“It has become very apparent that the only certain way to protect boys effectively from HPV is through a national vaccination programme and now this has finally come to fruition we will push for it to be implemented swiftly and effectively so we can ensure that it is most effective in saving lives in the future.”

Tooth decay in five-year-olds now increasing in some parts of England

Survey figures published by Public Health England (PHE) show the state of oral health of five-year-olds in the North West, Yorkshire and The Humber and the West Midlands has worsened since the last survey in 2014-2015, bucking a previous improving trend. Overall, in 2016-2017, 23.3 per cent of five-year-olds in England experienced tooth decay, improving from 24.7 per cent in 2014-2015.

More than a third (33.9 per cent) of five-year-olds in the North West have tooth decay, according to PHE’s data. The proportion of five-year-olds with tooth decay is also very high in Yorkshire and The Humber, where 30.4 per cent have rotting teeth. In the West Midlands more than a quarter (25.7 per cent) of five-year-olds are suffering decay.

The Faculty of Dental Surgery has said that although an overall drop in the percentage of 5-year-olds is welcome and reflects the work that has gone into educating families about oral health in recent years, including through NHS England’s new Starting Well programme, more needs to be done to stop deterioration in the worst affected areas of England.

Stephen Fayle, Board Member of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at The Royal College of Surgeons, said: “We are very disappointed the proportion of young children with tooth decay has increased in some areas of England, especially as this deterioration has occurred in parts of the country where decay levels are already high. This growing inequality is despite efforts to educate children, parents and carers. It is even more concerning when you consider that approximately ninety per cent of dental decay is preventable.

“More work must be done to understand why the message isn’t getting through in these areas, or if it is, why it isn’t leading to the decrease in tooth decay, seen in other parts of the country. With so many children still suffering from decay, we also need to make sure children can easily access NHS dental services, which are free for under-18s.

“We are pleased the overall number of five-year-olds in England with tooth decay continues to decrease. Many, including the Faculty of Dental Surgery, have worked hard in recent years to make people aware of the awful state of our children’s teeth.

“We can’t let children’s oral health fall off the Government’s agenda. We need to be constantly pushing for public health initiatives that remind families to brush teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste, reduce sugar consumption and visit the dentist routinely.

“We would also like to see the promising ‘Starting Well’ initiative rolled out more widely across the country – for example, there are currently no programmes in the West Midlands even though this region has seen a rise in levels of tooth decay.”

The full results of the oral health survey of five-year-old children 2017 published by Public Health England are available here:

Dental charity’s new website gives new opportunities to campaign for better oral health

The Oral Health Foundation has re-launched its website, with the focus on giving its supporters more opportunities to be actively involved in raising awareness of important causes.

The new online platform not only allows visitors to support all the charity’s campaigns and activities, such as National Smile Month (which is now underway for 2018), but also gives many more chance to participate in them.

The website ( also houses its own dedicated fundraising platform, which means that individuals and groups can create and share their own fundraising efforts and raise money for a series of charitable causes related to oral health.  

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, is excited by the possibilities brought by the new website.

Dr Carter said: “For more than 45 years’ we have worked with people and organisations who are passionate about raising awareness of oral health. This new website is all about providing these supporters with a platform which will make campaigning for oral health issues easier and more effective.

“Our new home also allows you to take a more in-depth look at who we are and what we do. Our charitable activities and the causes we support sometimes go under the radar, so we are delighted to be better able to share our successes with our supporters, the ones who make it all possible.”

As part of the launch, the charity’s patient-facing information, which was accessed by more than three million visitors last year, has been adapted to make it simpler for people to find what they need.

The Oral Health Foundation has also delivered a multi-language portal, which allows users to access all their oral health information across nine other world languages.

“It has been a remarkable project and one that we hope can have a real and tangible effect on the general public’s knowledge about oral health.

“More than 600,000 words have been translated by native-language speakers to ensure patients from as many countries as possible have access to trusted oral health information. These can also be used by health professionals for non-English speaking patients, with confidence and reassurance about the quality of information.”  

Visitors can also read about the latest oral health news, take interest in a series of new blogs and read the charity’s digital magazine.

The Oral Health Foundation’s Dental Helpline will also be available for those seeking answers to their oral health questions. The free advice line is staffed by fully trained and qualified dental experts and has been a useful tool for health professionals looking to point patients in the right direction in between appointments.

The charity is also excited to announce the launch of a brand-new online shop, which makes it easier for dental teams and oral health educators to find and purchase all the products they for oral health promotion.

Director of Educational Resources at the charity, Amanda Oakey, said: “Oral health promoters and professionals see such a wide range of people throughout the course of their careers and all these people require different needs.

“That’s why we spend a great deal of time producing high quality information and oral hygiene products to health professionals for their patients and local community.

“Our new online shop features our entire catalogue of more than 500 products and is incredible easy-to-use. I urge anybody involved in promoting oral health to go online and take a look.”

The redesigned website is live now at

Global mission sees Norfolk dentist restoring smiles for hundreds of refugee children

Norfolk dentist, Dr Gautam Sharma, flew thousands of miles last week as part of an international mission to provide dental treatment and preventative advice to displaced families from Syria.

He was determined to spread a little of his Norfolk cheer in the communities and schools of Lebanon.

In recent days, he has worked alongside medics and specialists from a variety of organisations and academic institutions, and has performed extractions and treatments for more than 300 patients – many of which are children.

The work is part of a global outreach programme, which sees Dr Sharma working collaboratively with a group dubbed the Dental Mavericks. A follow-up for all those treated is scheduled to take place in around six months’ time.

Dr Sharma, who sees NHS and private patients at his West Earlham Dental Health Practice back home, said the experience so far has been extremely humbling.

“I had a sense of what this work might be like and how emotional it might be – but nothing could have prepared me for the impact of spending time in these wonderful communities.

“As a father and as a dental practitioner, I am always particularly concerned about educating parents and children for the sake of their future health, so to be able to help so many families who need my skills so urgently, has been nothing short of life-changing.”

Dr Sharma, who left the UK with a large collection of gifts and toys donated by patients and Norfolk residents, has several days of his trip still remaining, and will see more schools and orphanages before returning at the weekend.

He added: “I am so incredibly glad to have had this opportunity, and to feel I have been able to make such a big difference to the lives of so many people here. Everyone is so grateful and so happy all the time. There are huge lessons in that for us all back in the UK.”

Thanking those who supported him in his mission, he said: “I would also like to extend my gratitude to the many patients and friends of my practice who contributed items which I have now been able to share out among the refugees.

“They have really helped create a big impact in this part of the world.”

Good oral health may help heart attack recovery

New research has shown that continued good oral health has been found to help the cardiovascular system recover, once someone has had a heart attack.

It was discovered that the bacteria that causes gum disease can impair the healing and repair of arteries, due to the bacteria’s enzyme that might stop the body’s immune cells from repairing the arteries.

Looking after their oral health after such a circumstance can prevent further cardiovascular issues in the future.

With cardiovascular disease being the leading cause of death in the UK, the Oral Health Foundation say that these deaths could be prevented with simple lifestyle changes. It is calling on people to understand the links between oral health and cardiovascular disease in order to reduce their chances of potentially fatal illnesses.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE , CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said: “This is incredibly interesting research which could offer hope to the future of millions of people affected by cardiovascular disease.

“There has been evidence for some time that gum disease increases the risk of cardiovascular disease but to now understand that preventing gum disease can also prevent further problems for victims of a heart attack opens up many interesting avenues for ongoing treatment.

“Preventing gum disease is relatively simple, you need to ensure you brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and all clean in between your teeth with an interdental brush or floss at least one a day.

“Combined with regular visits to a dentist you can prevent gum disease from progressing and affecting you in further ways.

“This study certainly suggests that good oral health could significantly improve the outcome of patients who have a heart attack and we eagerly welcome more research into this.”

Devolution, evolution and revolution? Dentists to debate the issues at LDCs’ conference

The looming crisis in recruiting NHS dentists and the need for a level playing field for all dentists competing for NHS contracts, are among the topical issues that will be debated at this year’s annual conference of Local Dental Committees (LDCs) in Belfast on 7-8 June.

Some of the 200 delegates in attendance will also be calling on the government to commit a portion of the tax raised from sugary drinks to be spent on oral health schemes for children, and to improve funding of community dental services.

There will be a timely discussion on whether devolution improves dental care or takes the ‘N’ out of the NHS. This will include presentations from Michael Donaldson (responsible for commissioning health service dentistry in Northern Ireland) and Ben Squires (with similar responsibility for Greater Manchester). Ben will share his experience of DevoManc and where commissioning dentistry fits in the health and social care framework.

A Question Time debate will explore the benefits of devolved commissioning of dental care, and ask whether, in fact, this creates more barriers to healthcare. The panel will include all the chief dental officers in the UK: Sara Hurley (England), Colette Bridgeman (Wales), Margie Taylor (Scotland) and Simon Reid (Northern Ireland).

Professor Stephen Fayle, consultant in paediatric dentistry (Leeds Dental Institute), will discuss the importance of prevention for everyone, while general dental practitioner Claudia Peace will share her experience as an associate in a prototype practice in Wiltshire.

John Milne, the Care Quality Commission’s senior national dental adviser, will provide an update on developments around the Practitioners Advice and Support Scheme, which is also the subject of several motions.

Joe Hendron, Chair of the 2018 LDCs Annual Conference, said: “Since we’re having our annual conference in Belfast, it seems fitting to look at the impact of devolution on dentistry.

“This is no longer confined to countries, as the government continues to push its traditional responsibilities out to the regions, look at DevoManc.

“Is this a way of taking the ‘national’ out of our health service and blaming the ‘outposts’ if they’re poorly funded by central government, or genuinely the best way of addressing local differences?

“Whatever the answers, I am looking forward to hearing the debates and the first-hand accounts of our expert speakers in dental commissioning.”