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Chelmsford dentist leading dental care team for London Olympics


Essex dentist Tony Clough has been chosen to manage the team of dentists who will care for the teeth of thousands of Olympic athletes at the 2012 Games. Tony, from Chelmsford, is well experienced in the area, having provided dental care for the competitors, their back-ups and the officials at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Tony points out that they were likely to see a lot of emergency dentistry treatments carried out among the 40,000 strong Olympic team, with the focus on quick procedures that can keep the events rolling along smoothly. He says; ‘If it’s something that is minor we can patch it – maybe a tooth that’s broken. Within about five or ten minutes they’re back on the field of play. If they’ve got a loose tooth we can splint it and get them back on.’
Athletes, although in good shape physically, can sometimes neglect their teeth whilst training and competing, leading to problems such as abscesses and gum disease. Tony comments that a lot of athletes come from underprivileged backgrounds, and so haven’t received a good quality of dental care thus far. He adds ‘It’s because they’re constantly drinking sports drinks, fizzy drinks and sweet drinks, because they need to. For example, with a rower, they need to put in 4,000 to 6,000 calories per day and the way they do that is through drinks.’
Mr Clough and his team will be based at the Olympic Park in Stratford, with two satellite clinics working in Weymouth and Eton.

Thousand waiting for NHS dentists


Over 4,000 people living in Plymouth are on the waiting list for a place with an NHS dentist, the National Health Service has revealed. Although this figure has dropped from 6,300 from last year, a large portion of those registered signed up seven months ago and are still waiting.

Only 53% of Plymouth residents are thought to be using dental services – a two percent drop from last year – due at least in part to the potential cost of treatment. Those waiting to be allocated a dentist are being encouraged to ring around their practices to see if any spaces have become available, as it has been suggested that city centre offices are more inclined to take on new patients if they are contacted directly. In the NHS Plymouth dental report, Vikki Johnson says; ‘Whilst allocation of people is sporadic and not easily predictable, we continually talk with practices persuading them to take, usually, several hundred people as their capacity allows and the number is gradually reducing.’

Furthermore, the report showed that only 50% of people who were given a spot with a surgery had taken advantage of it, Ms Johnson commented that this makes it even harder to allocate spaces and could impact further on waiting times. She added ‘NHS Plymouth strongly encourages any patient who is seeking an NHS dentist to contact practices directly. But it is generally perceived to be a mixture of the economic climate forcing patients to be more aware of their spending, the deferments of check-ups, and resultant under-delivery of targeted activity.’

Economy blamed for drop in dentist visits


Health officials in Darlington are blaming the economy for a drop in the number of people attending dental appointments. Families in particular are feeling the pinch as the price of consultations and other treatment rises beyond what they can comfortably afford. As a result, more ways of encouraging people to visit the surgery are being considered. County Durham and Darlington’s director of public health, Dr David Landes, published the figures in his report for the Council’s Health and Partnerships Scrutiny Committee, in an attempt to explain why children’s dental health in the area was slipping below acceptable standards.

A 2008/2009 survey revealed that children under the age of twelve suffering with tooth decay made up more than 40% of that age group, the worst in the country after Middlesborough. The figures were thought to be the result of fluoridated water. However, other results were no more promising; 54% of youngsters not in school were not being seen by the dentist, that number rose even further when the children joined mainstream education. More worrying, between the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 period the number of people visiting the dentist had dropped dramatically, more than 10% in some age groups.

Dr Landes blames this on the rocky economic climate, causing people to tighten their belts. He says; ‘If you need a course of treatment and you’re not exempt, the current fee is £47 and it’s a considerable amount of money, and it could be nearer £100 if you’re with a family. We’re promoting informal sessions, so at least if people are not exempt they’re not going to have that potentially embarrassing discussion in the waiting room.’

Dental implant course sees registration numbers treble


Dental implant provider Dentale has reported a significant rise in the number of people applying for a place on one of their courses. The company provides training for dentists and dental students in clinics throughout the South West of England and the West Midlands.
Implantology is a skilled and technical process that rebuilds a natural looking tooth from a titanium dental implant that is fixed into the jawbone. As this treatment has taken off in the dental world, it seems there are more healthcare professional looking to become an expert in the field. The number of dentists who have registered for a course at Dentale has risen by a staggering 257% from last year, boosting the firm’s turnover by an impressive 115%.

The most popular course is the five-day Introduction to Implant Dentistry, followed closely by the interactive ten-day Advanced Practical Implantology. Dentale provide numerous other dentistry courses, focusing on a variety of techniques and treatments, they also offer training for dental nurses in basic and advanced implantology.

Dentale group Manger, Debbie Snelson, commented that the courses were very hands-on and gave practicing dentists a chance to get experience of new surgical procedures, she said ‘Unlike other implantology training courses, dentists are guaranteed to work on patients from initial diagnosis, right through to implant placement and restoration. For concise, relevant professional instruction and the invaluable hands-on surgical experience which this course gives, it really is a must for any dentist wishing to start placing implants successfully and safely.’

Heart your smile says the dental community


The BDA Dental Showcase in Birmingham has launched a campaign to boost confidence amongst UK dentists. The Heart Your Smile initiative was created by several industry professionals who were concerned about the lack of confidence dentists were reportedly experiencing countrywide. Its founders are hoping to inspire dentists in their everyday practice by implementing nine core values to boost their drive and performance, labeled the ‘Nine habits of a happy dental professional.’

Managing director of the dental division of Henry Schein UK, Simon Gambold, said ‘It’s about stimulating positive conversations in the profession, about the profession.’ Showcase attendees were invited to sign the manifesto and show their support by wearing a Heart Your Smile badge. Dental professionals were also encouraged to share their stories at a film studio that was set up at the event, designed to lift other workers with interesting and entertaining tales from the world of dentistry. Marketing guru Chris Barrow said ‘Over the past few weeks we have ‘planted’ some posts on social media about what would inspire confidence in the dental profession and the answers have been very revealing.’

BDA’s Linda Stranks was hopeful that ‘A patient-facing campaign will also emerge from this which dental professionals can use to promote positive messages about overall healthcare and regular visits to the dentist.’

Standards of NHS and Private dentists called into question


Twenty dental practices in the UK have been found lacking, according to information revealed by Which? consumer protection.
Out of ten NHS surgeries and ten private surgeries, eleven were rated ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ after visits from undercover Which? representatives. Dentist where found to rush examinations and overlook vital assessment points – in five cases, the consultation lasted less than ten minutes. It’s also an industry standard to offer an x-ray to a new patient, this did not occur in five of the twenty visits. Soft tissue checks were only made in five of the surgeries reviewed, a procedure that is an integral part of the screening process for oral cancers.

Only three of the twenty offices visited were found to be ‘good’, but none were rated ‘excellent’. Consultations at NHS dentists were eleven minutes long on average, not nearly long enough to have adequately assessed the subject’s conditions, according to industry experts.

The General Dental Council and the Care Quality Commission have both been alerted to the findings and taped evidence has been passed onto them from Which?, whose executive director Richard Lloyd has this to say; ‘In an industry that has not one but two regulators, this level of incompetence is unacceptable. Patients could be left with permanent problems that could have been easily avoided’.

Bride-to-be Michelle wins a whiter smile


A blushing bride-to-be from York has won a teeth-whitening treatment at York’s Diamond Teeth Whitening clinic as part of an all-inclusive wedding prize courtesy of local paper The Press. 

Michelle Stannard and her fiance Adrian Elliott beat twenty other couples to win their dream wedding, which will take place in April 2012. The prize not only included a teeth-whitening session, but also covered the rest of the details too – venue, catering, clothing, flowers, and anything else you can think of. 

Thanks to a one-hour treatment with Diamond dentist Alex Keogh, Michelle will be able to dazzle her wedding guests with a brighter, whiter smile. She will also return for an additional session before the big day, to make sure her teeth really sparkle. The teeth whitening procedure uses a special gel, which is activated by a blue curing light, to break down any stains or discolouration on the teeth, leaving them looking polished and natural. Typically, these treatments are very successful, but can be expensive when provided by top industry surgeries.

Tooth whitener Alex was more than happy to give Michelle a new smile for her special day, saying; ‘Your wedding photos are the ones you keep forever, so it’s a one off chance to have a white smile in your wedding photos. Michelle’s teeth were very white to start with, so she went for four or five shades difference’.

Stress can affect dental health


Members of the Saving Teeth campaign have warned dental patients that stress could be impacting on their teeth as well as their general health. Bruxism – grinding or clenching of teeth – affects around ten percent of the UK population, and is known to wear away enamel, fracture teeth, and cause severe jaw problems.

Endodontic specialist, Julian Webber, has spoken about the lack of information about stress related bruxism, saying that people should talk to their dentist if they are having problems with clenching or grinding, particularly at nighttime. Dr Webber pointed out that it was important to stop the process of wear before it gets unmanageable, saying that the average persons tooth is put under enormous pressure as it is, including fractures, fillings, infections, root canals, and other dental procedures. He said ‘If you add stress into the mix and have people with filled teeth clenching and grinding, they can develop a range of problems in their teeth and jaws. I can generally tell the patients who are stressed just by looking into their mouths’.

24th-30th of October is Bruxism Awareness Week, and campaigners are asking people who think they might be suffering from stress-related dental problems to take advantage of the opportunity and ‘talk to your dentist about wear and tear on your teeth and how he or she can help you’.

NHS cuts could hit vulnerable dental patients


UK dentists have spoken about their worry over the impact of NHS cuts on their most vulnerable patients. A recent survey carried out by the British Dental Association has revealed that most dentists think the budget cuts will affect services badly, limiting access to much needed treatments. 

Although job security was a major worry for the majority of those who took part, most dentists were thinking about the effect on their patients before themselves; 83% of respondents said there were longer waiting times for appointments, whilst 72% felt that there was a reduction in available treatments. 58% of those asked thought that the standard of care had been compromised following the announcement of large NHS budget cuts.

The survey was aimed at surgeons whose work centres on patients with special needs, showing that two thirds of dentists in this sector were concerned with their patients being denied access to dental care and as a result being neglected within the system.

fortunately, it seems their voices are not going unheard, as the British Dental Association has said it will be writing to the Department of Health to persuade against Primary Care Trusts making cuts to the services of special needs dental surgeries.

Funding secured for Scottish dental schools


Glasgow and Dundee Universities have jointly been awarded £132,000 from the Scottish Funding Council in order to tackle ongoing issues with their dental services. The money is expected to go towards improving the treatment for oral cancer and birth defects like cleft palates. Joint initiatives between the two schools are also thought to be on the agenda, pooling their resources to build research programmes and seek additional funding.

Dean of dentistry at Dundee University, Prof. Mark Hector, spoke about the ‘unenviable reputation’ that Scotland held in the UK and throughout Europe, referring to it’s poor treatment of oral diseases like caries and cleft lips, as well as some types of cancer.
He said; ‘This funding will facilitate a greater level of effective collaboration between experts in dental research and dental public health at the universities of Dundee and Glasgow to accelerate progress towards finding solutions to such problems and implementing them with a beneficial impact on the health of the population of Scotland and beyond. ’

 Head of the Dental School at the University of Glasgow was in agreement, saying that the money would present them with ‘an excellent opportunity’ to improve their services and build on their research platforms. He added; ‘It will ensure that there is synergy and a sharing of expertise, which will help both institutions to deliver research outputs relevant to the Scottish population and enhance their positions and research reputations within the UK and internationally. ’

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