Get your teeth into new-look website

dental health website

The British Dental Health Foundation is pleased to announce a new-look to its main website. The changes will give the website – www.dentalhealth.org – a more dynamic and engaging appearance for users, as well as retaining its original features.

With more than three quarters of a million visitors each year, the website has become the most comprehensive and invaluable guide to oral health on the web. It now features a new and improved ‘Approved Products’ section to offer guidance on what product claims are clinically proven and not exaggerated. The website also embraces social media and is fully compatible across mobile and tablet platforms.

Only last year the Foundation scooped ‘Best Online Resource at the MyFaceMyBody Awards, and has once again been shortlisted for the award in 2013.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, said: “We are constantly looking for ways to deliver the best user experience possible for the public, press and the profession, and the latest re-design offers just that.

“The website contains an extraordinary amount of content for users, which is constantly updated and added to by the Foundation’s team of writers and dentally-qualified experts. The ‘Tell Me About’ series gives users an extensive hub of information relating to a variety of oral health issues, ranging from routine procedures and treatments, to various oral conditions and diseases. The information is laid out in a clear question and answer format and has all been approved by the Word Centre for Plain English.

“Along with our two major campaigns, National Smile Month and Mouth Cancer Action Month, the site has continued to grow within the last two years. Our previous re-launch went on to be award-winning, and hopefully we will enjoy similar success with our latest changes.”

Saliva test ‘could detect pancreatic cancer’

Saliva test ‘could detect pancreatic cancer’Researchers believe they are one step closer to detecting pancreatic cancer – through a simple saliva test. The team at UCLA School of Dentistry1 were able to identify the same biomarkers associated with pancreatic cancer in saliva, potentially enabling dentists to screen for the disease.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Most people with the disease will die within the first year of diagnosis, and just six per cent will survive five years.

Previous research has identified that dentists could help to screen for a number of chronic diseases, diabetes, potential heart problems, alcohol abuse and help with smoking cessation.

Pancreatic cancer accounted for 7,901 deaths in 20102. With previous research suggesting gum disease could be linked to developing the disease, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, has called for further research into the potential screening process.

Dr Carter said: “Pancreatic cancer is extremely aggressive. If there is any possibility of dentists detecting it through a saliva test, further research must be done. What it does highlight is the importance of regular visits to the dentist.

READ THE FULL STORY: Saliva test ‘could detect pancreatic cancer’

DENTAL BLOG: A clearer future for tooth whitening

When the European Council’s directive on tooth whitening was released at the end of October, clarifying that tooth whitening could only be carried out under by or under the supervision of a dentist and that the supply of tooth whitening products containing more than 0.1% peroxide could only be to dentists, the announcement was welcomed and supported by a number of leading dental bodies. Together they formed a group known as the Tooth Whitening Information Group (TWIG), to promote and ensure safe legal tooth whitening for the general public.

The three principal founders of the group, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Philips Senior Professional Relations Manager UK – Oral Healthcare, Mhari Coxon and Dr Stuart Johnston from the British Dental Association – discussed why the group is needed.

Q. What is the Tooth Whitening Information Group?

MC: The group offers the profession and members of the public clarity on tooth whitening treatment. Such a lot has happened in a relatively short space of time we found many people still unaware of the new legalities. The group has members from a number of dental bodies, including the British Dental Health Foundation, British Dental Association, British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy, British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, British Association of Dental Nurses and the British Dental Bleaching Society, and together our expertise can work in the best interests of the public.

SJ: Trading standards and the GDC are very supportive of this and have worked with us to make the process of enforcing the law simple and effective for them. The real issue is that these regulators have many other illegal or potentially dangerous activities to deal with – illegal tooth whitening is only one of many things they have to take action on. This is why the group will work to provide evidence and clear reporting of cases to support the work of these bodies and reduce the burden on their limited resources. We are also supporting them with the group’s knowledge of what is illegal and what isn’t.

Q. Why is such a group needed?

NC: It has become clear that the public do not fully understand what constitutes legal tooth whitening. Many still believe beauticians and high street kiosks can carry out the treatment, and not enough know they should visit the dentist. Cheaper alternatives are financially attractive, but they do pose real health risks.

MC: The same applies to the profession. There’s an element of uncertainty. It’s our aim to ensure every member of the profession knows the regulations regarding tooth whitening and feels confident in supporting the pubic and reporting any illegal activity they become aware of.

Q. What do you aim to achieve?

NC: Our primary aim is to educate and inform the public on how to achieve safe tooth whitening. We also want to offer clear guidance to the profession on the regulations and offer support to the relevant bodies who will be tackling illegal tooth whitening.

SJ: We are also going to set up a website where dental professionals and members of the general public can make the right people aware of illegal tooth whitening. The Group’s co-ordinator will work with those who are unaware they’re offering the treatment illegally to change their products and ensure the patients they are treating are not being put in harm’s way.

Q. What changes have you overseen?

SJ: We have already put a stop to companies offering discounted illegal tooth whitening treatments. The ease of access to these types of deals was alarmingly easy, and we’ve helped to educate these companies on what is and isn’t legal.

MC: I was delighted to see the High Court rule that tooth whitening is the practice of dentistry. The case involving Lorna Jamous reaffirmed our belief and helped to spread the message to the profession. There are no grey areas in the regulations now – if people want to get their teeth whitened, they must visit the dentist and have the treatment carried out by a suitably trained dental professional.

Q. Where can people go if they suspect any illegal tooth whitening?

SJ: The group launched its website – www.safetoothwhitening.org – specifically to deal with this issue. Any members of the profession that are aware of disregard for the law can register their complaint on the site.

NC: The same applies to the public. If they know of any illegal tooth whitening practice, or wish to make a complaint about a product, they can let the group know and we will take the complaint up on their behalf.

MC: There will also be consistent information for both professionals and the public on the site to help them make informed choices about tooth whitening.

Government fails to reduce mouth cancer cases

Written by Dr Nigel Carter

Following last week’s announcement that plain packaging would be put on hold, the decision to shelve minimum alcohol pricing has been met with dismay by many leading health experts.

While Minister Jeremy Browne has said the policy would remain under consideration, there was not enough “concrete evidence” minimum pricing could reduce the harmful effects of problem drinking without hurting those who drank responsibly.

We believe the Government has made the wrong decision. Deaths from tobacco use and alcohol are entirely preventable. It seems the Government has caved into pressure from both industries and in doing so has failed to cut levels of mouth cancer.

Both plain packaging and minimum alcohol pricing would help to reduce the number of people who develop the disease. Tobacco use and drinking alcohol to excess are the leading risk factors for mouth cancer, a disease many experts have forecast will rise over the next decade.

READ THE FULL STORY: Government fails to reduce mouth cancer cases

Why the fizzy drinks tax should be implemented

Drinks packed with sugar have long been problematic to the health of the nation. The Foundation has supported a number of policies designed to curb sugary drinks consumption, including a report backed by more than 60 organisations calling for a tax on sugary drinks.

The report1, compiled by Sustain entitled ‘A Children’s Future Fund – How food duties could provide the money to protect children’s health and the world they grow up in’, makes three main recommendations for Budget 2013 it believes would help to improve children’s health. They are:

  • Introduce a sugary drinks duty for the UK which, for example at 20p per litre, would raise around £1 billion a year;
  • Ring-fence the majority of money raised from a sugary drinks duty for a Children’s Future Fund, which could be spent on improving children’s health by, for example, providing free school meals, or sustainably produced fruit and vegetable snacks in schools; and
  • Give an independent body the responsibility to oversee how the sugary drinks duty is implemented and make sure the revenue is spent effectively.

This is not the only report to suggest such a course of action. The National Heart Forum published a report2 last year also calling for the introduction of a duty on sugary drinks to reduce consumption levels and raise money to support public health programmes. The growing support and backing for these programmes cannot be ignored by the health industry.

In the UK 60 per cent of adults are considered overweight and obese. Diet-related illnesses cost the NHS £6 billion each year, and conditions such as type II diabetes and heart disease have also increased, placing a substantial burden on the healthcare system and the economy.

READ THE FULL STORY:  Why the fizzy drinks tax should be implemented

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Milking the benefits

A new study has found that drinking a glass of milk after breakfast significantly reduces the build-up of plaque.

Results of an American study1 have shown a small glass of milk more than halves the build-up of plaque acids after eating dry sugary breakfast cereal.

Milk is one of the best sources of calcium and the study reaffirms the belief that drinking milk after a meal can also help because it neutralises the acids and re-mineralise the teeth after eating.

The frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks exposes teeth to longer periods of acid attacks and weakens the enamel. While some experts have labelled breakfast as the most important meal of the day, research group Which? discovered 12 out of 14 cereals2 we know and love contain worryingly high levels of sugar. Even cereals perceived as healthy are somewhat contradictory, also containing high levels of sugar.

The UK in general has developed a very unhealthy food environment, making it even harder to improve dietary habits. Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: “It is important to remember is that it is not the amount of sugar you eat or drink, but how often you do it. A sugary breakfast once a day might not cause significant damage to your teeth on its own. It is the snacking culture that seems to have developed throughout the day that is harmful.

READ THE FULL STORY:  Dental News: Milking the benefits

Do you have what it takes to be a Buddy?

buddy9The British Dental Health Foundation is looking for Buddies to aid its quest to improve oral health in children. The charity is asking dental professionals, teachers and educators to take up the challenge and deliver oral health education in a bid to increase children’s oral health.

Latest figures reveal a third (33 per cent) of 12-year-olds have some kind of cavity while around one in seven (14 per cent) of eight-year-olds have signs of decay in permanent teeth, with one in 100 losing a tooth to decay.

Children who learn good oral health habits early are far more likely to carry them into adulthood – that is why today (Wednesday 3 April) the Foundation has launched www.dentalbuddy.org – a website with a range of free materials and resources to encourage more dental professionals and schools to work together to deliver oral health messages to children in the community.

The symbol of the campaign is Buddy, a spaceman character who will set out to explore oral health in partnership with children.

Director of Educational Resources at the Foundation, Amanda Oakey, is asking for dental professionals and teachers to become a ‘Buddy’ themselves and take their expertise into the classroom.

Amanda said: “Teachers have a lot of pressure to deliver education that meets national targets in literacy, numeracy and areas such as Personal, Health & Social Education, which oral health happens to fall under.

“By working with local practices and oral health teams and sharing their knowledge and experiences, there is every chance to really make a positive difference for many children in the UK, particularly in more deprived areas where inequalities in health are more apparent.

“Oral health levels of children in the UK are generally very good but fundamental problems still exist. Children not being taken to the dentist, not being provided with toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste and having imbalanced diets loaded with sugar. These are basic lessons we can pass on directly to the children themselves and teach them the value of good oral hygiene.”

READ MORE: Dental Buddy – Be a Buddy