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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England captain left with plenty to smile about

Essex CricketAfter recording a superb century and overseeing a series victory against New Zealand, it’s little wonder England captain Alastair Cook has a smile on his face.

The Essex batsman has been sharing a smile along with his county team-mates after they posed with a Smiley to show their support for National Smile Month, the UK’s largest oral health campaign.

The campaign, which runs until 20 June, encourages everyone to follow three key messages for good oral health and to find out just why oral hygiene is important.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, is delighted to see such high profile stars playing their role in spreading these messages, particularly for the next generation.

Dr Carter said: “Sports stars are often seen as role models for young children, and if they are seen to be promoting good oral health then children will undoubtedly follow. There are few role models bigger than the England captain, so I’m thrilled to see Alastair and the rest of the Essex County Cricket team posing with their smileys.

READ THE FULL STORY: England captain left with plenty to smile about

Special Olympics Special Smiles

I first heard about Special Olympics International and its British contingent, Special Olympics Great Britain (SOGB) a couple of years ago through conversation with a member of their Board; the eminent humanitarian Mr Philip Nathan, MBE, Board member of MedicAlert International and the chairman of The MedicAlert Foundation (UK and Ireland), where I am a trustee. At the time, SOGB were hosting their National Games in Leicester in 2009.

Four years on and the next National Games are upon us and as a special care dentist, I’m proud to be directing both their Special Smiles programme and their Healthy Athletes programme which, in addition to dentistry, also houses several other health disciplines such as Opening Eyes (eye tests and the provision of glasses) Healthy Hearing (audiology tests and hearing aids), Fit Feet (podiatry) , Funfitness (physical therapy), Health Promotion (better health and well-being) and MedFest (sports physical exam).

Healthy Athletes is a global movement with roots in the USA. In 1994, Dr. Steve Perlman, a Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine professor and long time advocate of people with intellectual disabilities, founded the Special Smiles® initiative after working with the Shriver family as they struggled to find adequate dental care for Rosemary Kennedy – sister of Eunice Kennedy Shriver (the founder of Special Olympics) and John F. Kennedy. Dr. Perlman’s concerns about health disparities for people with disabilities prompted the Officially launched in 1997, Healthy Athletes organizes its events in a welcoming, fun environment. Its screenings educate athletes on healthy lifestyle choices and identify problems that may need additional follow-up.
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READ THE FULL STORY: Special Olympics Special Smiles

Dental Sedation

Written by Dr. Daz Singh

National Smile Month takes place 20 May – 20 June. It is an opportunity to educate and raise awareness of oral health matters by promoting three of the simplest messages: that people should brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day using fluoride toothpaste; that people should visit the dentist on a regular basis; and that people should limit their intake of sugary foods and drinks. It all sounds so simple, but the statistics don’t lie. More than a third of adults have been found to postpone getting dental treatment due to cost, and it doesn’t help when more than half of UK workers are not given paid leave for dental visits.

Dental fear

What if fear is standing in the way of your oral health? Fear of needles, fear of pain, fear of choking. It may sound like hocus pocus to some people, but the effects are real and can have a negative impact on a person’s dental health. We are here to tell you that you should not let a fear of the dentist stand in your way. The statistics have got it right, once again, with 60 per cent of people aged 65 and over being found to regret that they did not care for their teeth earlier in life. So please do not become just another statistic.
In the UK an increasing number of people are avoiding regular dental check-ups due to dental fears. The implications are far reaching and can lead to problems being left unidentified and untreated, leaving people in a situation where they run the risk of having to pay more for major dental treatment when, or if, they step into a dental practice. But everyone deserves access to dental treatment, and now.

Help is available through sedation

If your oral health is being affected by a phobia of the dentist then dental sedation is an effective solution to help you put your fears aside and get the treatment your teeth and gums need. There are dental practices investing in this area in terms of training and equipment, along with other patient care initiatives, to help patients receive treatment in a calm and comfortable environment. This also results in future appointments and check-ups being less stressful to attend, providing real long-term benefits to your oral health.

Ollie & Darsh are a specialist cosmetic dentist based in Liverpool.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE: Dental Sedation

Surely people don’t die from a toothache?

Dying from simple dental decay might seem impossible, but on the eve of World Oral Health Day Mark Topley points out that – in some parts of the world – it is all too common.

 I run a British dental health NGO out in Tanzania. At a dinner recently on the shores of Lake Victoria, I sat next to an America surgeon visiting the area. As well as working within our local city, Mwanza, she was carrying out surgery in one of the district hospitals where our emergency dental training teams are based. As we chatted, the subject turned to the training we’d been providing in the Lake Zone.

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 Although I knew that complications from untreated dental disease could cause real problems for people living in this part of the world, the comments my dinner companion made shocked me. Many of her patients, she said, needed major surgery to remove diseased tissue caused by untreated dental infection. As she explained, when a dental infection fails to ‘drain’ properly, the infection can track into the neck and then spread from there into the chest. This leads to tissue necrosis (tissue death) and septicemia (severe infection in the blood), often fatal. Treatment is to cut away the necrotic tissue and give high doses of antibiotics.

 Sadly, she reflected, this very rarely works. Once a person has infection tracking into their neck, the prognosis is not good. It was one of the enduring memories, and frustrations, from her visit. She summed it up with a comment at the end of dinner:

 “If I had my way, I would train an army of people to take teeth out safely. What people need in the villages round here is someone who can simply remove a diseased tooth, and stop the infection spreading.”

 Dying from decay

 It is 2013 and people are still dying from untreated dental decay. Two of our teams have just returned from the regions of Musoma and Bukoba in Tanzania, where for 10 days they have been training local health workers in emergency dentistry. They will train them in areas without running water or power, or the standard sterilisation kit we are used to here back in the UK (special charcoal-burning sterilisers are used instead). Yet for thousands of people living in distant, rural settlements there are now a dozen locally-qualified people who are able to treat their communities day-in, day-out, helping to prevent the sort of hideous conditions that my dinner companion had mentioned.

Sadly, however, the shocking reality is that three-quarters of the world’s population have no access to even the most basic of dental services. Dental Caries as the dental profession calls them – or tooth decay – is the world’s most common disease. It causes debilitating pain and drastically affects a person’s ability to function.

 DSCF0332Most developing countries don’t have enough dentists: here in Tanzania there is one dentist for approximately every 100,000 people (in the UK the ratio is 1:2,500). In Rwanda, where we are about to launch a new project, there are just 11 dentists for the entire country! To make matters worse, these dentists usually live in cities and large towns, where in these east African nations only a minority of the population is based. This lack of access to pain relief leads to chronic suffering, the loss of ability to work or support the family, withdrawal of children from school (to help support subsistence farming), and complications that can and do lead to death.

 So the access to a dentist in every village remains a utopia. What we believe is necessary, and where we feel our partnership with the Tanzanian government is leading the way, is to train medical personnel already deployed to these rural areas to provide a basic, pain-relieving service, combined with oral health education. We’re extending that partnership elsewhere in Africa now, backed by the support of many British dental professionals. Above all, though, all of us involved in this field must focus on relieving dental pain through training, so that local medics can carry out safe tooth extractions. Otherwise, literally, a toothache can kill.

 Mark Topley is CEO of Bridge2Aid, a British dental health NGO operating in East Africa www.bridge2id.org | @mark_topley