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Public Health England launches campaign to tackle children’s oral health concerns

Research from Public Health England (PHE) has shown alarming figures for oral health care in the child population. Around 141 children, everyday are admitted to hospitals to have their teeth extracted.

The main culprit is tooth decay, caused by a combination of sugary drinks and brushing habits. As a result, PHE has launched a campaign, Change4life which aims to address the oral health risks. I also provides healthy alternatives and advice on healthy oral health habits such as brushing.

Tax on unhealthy foods

A recent poll has has suggested that a tax on unhealthy foods would encourage 47% of Brits to reduce their consumption of those foods.

Age and geography play a strong role in this likelihood. 53% of 16-34 year-olds were more likely to be put off unhealthy foods as a result of the tax. Compared to only 42% of over 45 year-olds feeling this way. London was also the most likely to be deterred by the tax in the UK, with 53% reporting a tax would put them off buying unhealthy food.

 

New sugar tax – will it be enough?

The Soft Drinks Industry Levy has been implimented in the UK, effecting all drinks that have more than 5g of sugar per 100ml. This tax will mean that sugary drinks will be 24p (per litre) more expensive.

However, will this be enough to put people off buying sugary drinks? Research from Simplyhealth showed that 21% of people wouldn’t mind paying a little extra. Another 20% claimed that they were addicted to sugar.

The tax has encouraged some manufactures to reduce the sugar levels in their products. One of them, Nestle has pledge to reduce their sugar levels by 10%.

Oral hygiene and stress

This April is Stress Awareness Month, and according to the Mental Health Foundation, around 12 million adults a year, in the UK see their GP for mental health problems. Majority of these cases are stress-related.

As well as effecting mental health, stress can also be attributed to oral health problems. These include ulcers, gum disease and halitosis (bad breath).

Although stress is in some cases unavoidable, there are ways to minimise its impact. These include:

  • Exercise
  • Keeping hydrated
  • Regular check ups with your dentist

1/3 of adults admit they have never visited the dental hygienist.

New research from Tepe UK has shown that almost 1/3 of adults never visit the dental hygienist. Citing regular visits to the dentist as being enough to maintain good oral health care. This behaviour is contradicitng as the respondents also believed that their smile was important to their image.

Most do not realise that brushing their teeth only covers ‘60% of their teeth’ and dental hygienists can suggest techniques that ‘clean all surfaces of the teeth’, the head of clinical education at Tepe UK suggests.

Fluoride in drinking water

It is well estabilshed that fluoride is beneficial for oral health. The mineral is naturally found in some foods and especially water. Since the early 20th century it is has been discovered, that people living in areas with high fluoride, have less tooth decay.

However,some research has suggested that it had a negavtive effect on the intelligence of developing brains.

However, this claim has been disproved by researchers at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. Their study, the largest of its kind, showed no detrimental effects of fluoride on intelligence. This is particularily interesting as the areas tested had relatively higher levels of fluoride in other parts of Sweden.

Dentists may be a ‘key role’ in the detection of eating disorders.

A recent study by King’s College London has suggested that many eating disorders such as anorexia nervos and bulimia result in erosion of the tooth enamel.

Although those who suffer from an eating disorder are reluctant to visit their GP/psychologist, many do visit their dentist. This gives dentist an ‘uniquely placed’ opportunity to provide an early warning, says the BDA.

However, many dentists are not trained or do not have time to refer patients to appropriate services. The BDA has called on NICE to provide information for dentists on referrals of patients with eating disorders.