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Experts warn of regional discrepancies in children’s dental health


According to dental experts there are huge regional discrepancies in the health of children’s teeth up and down the country. Sandra White, director of dental public health at Public Health England, spoke at a health select committee hearing into children’s oral health. She told the committee that the most deprived areas of the country have a greater percentage of dental decay in five-year-olds than the least deprived areas.

Dr White also said that children who develop decay when they still have their milk teeth are more likely to show signs of decay when their adult teeth come through. She added that it’s important to teach children how to effectively clean their teeth while they are young, so that they don’t have to get dental treatment in later life.

Chief dental officer for England, Barry Cockcroft, said that despite the improvement in child oral health over the past 50 years there is still a strong link between deprivation and poor dental hygiene. He told the hearing that children in deprived areas were only accessing treatment after they had developed symptoms, rather than receiving preventative care. Finally he said ‘I think we shouldn’t see this purely as a dental issue, this is a societal issue that we need to address across a broad front.’

Poor people have fewer teeth by the age of 65


According to findings published by the Journal of Dental Research, poor people in the UK have eight fewer teeth than rich people by the age of 65; it has been suggested that low wages and poor standards of living are to blame for the divide in dental health.

The study was carried out by Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust, UCL and the National Centre for Social Research. It also revealed that people who live in poor areas of the country and have lower levels of education will suffer with more with tooth decay, gum disease, and general tooth loss.

Lead author Professor Jimmy Steele, head of the dental school at Newcastle University, said that this was not a ‘big surprise’, but the effects will have a ‘big impact’ on the lives of poorer people in the UK. Senior lecturer at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL, Dr Georgios Tsakos, said that educating people living in deprived areas would help to reduce the problem. Dr Tsakos said; ‘It is not only being poor that affects their perceptions about their oral health and quality of life, but educational attainment can also make a major difference. This has profound implications for policy as intervening in earlier life could have a significant long term effect on oral health.’

Tooth problems could have cost athletes an Olympic medal


Health experts have revealed that tooth decay and other dental problems may have cost a number of athletes a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games and statistics have shown that poor oral health may have affected a fifth of the athlete’s performances. The study revealed that 18% of sports men and women complained that the condition of their teeth may have had a negative impact on their athletic performance at the games.

Health experts at University College London said that athletes should give dental hygiene the same priority as other sports sciences to increase their performance by even the smallest margins. Professor Ian Needleman of the UCL Eastman Dental Institute said that problems concerning the teeth and gums are ‘easily preventable’ and could mean the difference between a gold medal and a silver one. Professor Needleman said ‘professional athletes and their teams spend a lot of time and money on ways to marginally improve performance, as this can make all the difference in elite sports.’ He also added ‘things like better tooth brushing techniques and higher fluoride toothpastes could prevent… toothache and associated sleeping and training difficulties.’

It has also been suggested that acidic energy drinks can cause decay among athletes and the researchers were keen to point out that they were not trying to ‘demonise’ energy drinks or suggest that athletes don’t use them, but people should be aware of their dental condition and take measures to reduce the risks to oral health.


Almost 10% of three-year-olds in Derbyshire have tooth decay


Research body Public Health England (PHE) has revealed that 9.2% of children in Derbyshire have evidence of tooth decay, although this is less than the national average of 11.7%, Derbyshire County Council say they are committed to improving the numbers even further.

A spokesman for the council said that they are pleased that the number is below the national average and said that they will work hard to ensure that the percentage does not increase in the coming years. The spokesman said ‘This is really positive and tells us that parents understand the impact poor oral health can have on their children and are taking steps to avoid it. We know there are areas where we can do better and we will be targeting those with oral health promotion initiatives.’

The council is hoping to continue working with communities in the county to improve oral health and the aim is to prevent decay in all children by encouraging ‘good tooth care routines early on, brushing with fluoride toothpaste [and] avoiding too many sugary drinks and sweets.’ By helping children develop good habits with regards to dental health, kids in Derbyshire should be able to enjoy healthy teeth throughout childhood and entering into adulthood.

Medical experts warn about mouthwash links with cancer


Research has shown that there is a link between over-use of mouthwash and cancer and researchers are warning of an ‘elevated risk’ if the product is used ‘three or more times a day’.

Europe-wide research suggested that excessive use of mouthwash raises the risk of cancer and the study leader Dr David Conway, of the University of Glasgow, adds that ‘some people who regularly smoke or drink alcohol use mouthwash to hide the smell’ which could increase the risk of oral cancers. The product can be useful if prescribed by a dentist but Dr Conway said that ‘all you need for good oral health is regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing, plus regular check-ups by a dentist.’

Alcohol in mouthwash is thought to help cancer-causing substances to penetrate the mouth lining more easily, but the study leader maintained that ‘We did not find any significant increase in risk associated with using mouthwash once or twice a day.’ The reviewers said that the results showed it was reasonable to ‘believe that there is now sufficient evidence to accept the proposition that alcohol-containing mouthwashes contribute to the increased risk of development of oral cancer.’

The study involved 1, 962 patients with mouth or throat cancer and 1,993 people without the disease; 13 universities across nine countries were included in the research. The results are being published in the specialist journal Oral Oncology.

Actresses support whitening treatment ‘oil pulling’


Hollywood actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley have shared their support of tooth whitening treatment known as ‘oil pulling’, which involves rinsing the mouth out with coconut oil to whiten the teeth and improve oral health.

Gwyneth Paltrow, who is known for her love of natural, healthy living, spoke to E! News about the practice, saying ‘I just started ‘oil pulling’, which is when you swish coconut oil around [in your mouth] for 20 minutes, and it’s supposed to be great for oral health and making your teeth white’

The technique is an ancient Ayurvedic treatment that is thought to strengthen the gums as well as improve the enamel shade. Shailene Woodley, star of the new young-adult film Divergent, described the practice as ‘amazing!’ in an interview with Gloss magazine. The 22-year-old added that ‘it really makes your teeth whiter, because the plaque on your teeth is not water-soluble, its fat soluble.’ The young actress went on to explain that lipids in the oil will dissolve the fat to improve dental health and get rid of the plaque. Most of the time, coconut oil is recommended but Shailene said that she prefers sesame oil.

New York based cosmetic dentist, Dr Marc Lowenberg, told Us Weekly that ‘there’s no downside’ to this treatment and that oil pulling is ‘probably the most harmless natural remedy.’ He added ‘mouthwash makes your breath better for around ten minutes; if [oil pulling] really takes the toxins out of your mouth your breath should stay fresher longer.’

More people are heading to A&E instead of the dental clinic


Due to the high price of dental treatment in UK many patients are choosing to avoid regular payments in an effort to save money; unfortunately, this has meant that the number of people visiting A&E with dental problems has quadrupled in the last 2-3 years. Over 2010 to 2011 just 3,205 went to casualty with tooth pain but between 2012 and 2013 that soared to 14,526.

Unison’s head of health Christina McAnea said that many families had to cut back on their outgoings and dental appointments were one of the things to go during times of soaring bills. She told The Mirror ‘Things are bad when people neglect oral health for money reasons. This is the early sign of a major problem.’

Although dental treatment comes under the NHS it does have to be paid for at the point of service and it can cost several hundred pounds if a lot of work needs to be done. The British Dental Association warned that the practice of avoiding treatment in the short-term to save money would lead to long-term problem with dental health and Labour’s Andrew Gwynne suggested that registration was the answer, saying ‘To ease this pressure on hospitals, the Government must help patients to register with NHS dentists.’

More than a third of youngsters in Warrington have tooth decay


Statistics from Public Health England have revealed that over 30% of young children in Warrington have decayed, missing, or filled teeth as a result of bad dental hygiene. Five-year-olds in the North West currently top the regional table for poor dental health, with around 34.8% of children suffering tooth decay. Although this figure has dropped from 38.1% since 2009, it is still above the national average of 27.9%.

The percentage shows that primary school pupils in the town have at least one tooth missing or in some stage of decay; the North West average is 1.29, compared to the 0.94 national average.

A council spokesman said ‘We recognise that Warrington is higher than the national average for tooth decay in children of five and this does cause us concern, that is why we are working with our oral health unit and local dentists to ensure children and their parents are educated on good dental health.’

He went on to advise parents to limit the amount of sugary drinks and snacks their children consume and to teach them how to brush their teeth properly every day using fluoride tooth paste. He also added ‘Work is on-going to promote good oral health through schools and children’s networks and dentists do apply a topical fluoride varnish to children’s teeth to help protect them against decay, this is applied every 3-6 months.’

Women are six times more likely to be ‘disgusted’ by dental treatment


According to research carried out by the Adult Dental Health Survey, women who are afraid of the dentist are six times more likely to be ‘disgusted’ by images of dental treatment than their male counterparts and women who do not have a phobia of the dentist. The data also revealed that almost half of adults were moderately to extremely afraid of going to the dentist, and Karen Coates, Dental Advisor at the British Dental Health Foundation, was anxious to ensure that the research is used to help dental phobics overcome their fears.

Karen said ‘The good news is that more and more dentists now understand their patients’ fears, and with a combination of kindness and gentleness can do a great deal to make dental treatment an acceptable, normal part of life.’ She also added that many dentists are specially trained to treat nervous patients and the team should provide more time to make these individuals feel more comfortable. Karen advised anxious patients to ‘book appointments at a time of day when you feel at your best and when you do not have any other commitments to worry about. Allow plenty of time so that you can get to the practice in a relaxed frame of mind.’

Although women may feel more disgusted by the thought of dental treatment, it is important that any symptoms are caught as early on as possible, Ms Coates commented that patients who have dental phobia would probably have poorer oral health in most cases, and added that ‘Catching any problems whilst they are still small will mean that the treatment involved is much less and lighter on your pocket too. Truly a case that prevention is better than a cure.’

Does Miley’s tongue indicate health problems?


After her controversial VMA performance, Miley Cyrus has constantly been in the headlines with her antics and her favourite pose for the paparazzi is currently to stick her tongue out; however, this has led some experts and music industry colleagues to question whether the appearance of Miley’s tongue indicates some health problems. Singing legend Cher recently voiced her opinion, saying ‘Chick, don’t stick out your tongue if it’s coated.’

The co-founder of Shabir Daya also weighed in on the issue, commenting that ‘your tongue is a window into what’s happening in your body; colour, coating, and cracks are all indicators of the state of your health.’

Miley might not think sticking her tongue out reveals much about her health and eating habits, but Daya added that ‘a healthy tongue has a thin, white and moist coating and any deviation from this indicates possible problems.’ He added that ‘small protrusions in the tongue can harbour food allowing bacteria and fungi to thrive and this results in a whitish tongue. Stress, particularly on-going stress, can cause deeper cracks in the tongue since stress releases inflammatory hormones.’ Some Twitter followers have suggested that Miley’s break-up with Australian actor Liam Hemsworth could be a factor in her poor oral health of late – not to mention her smoking.

Daya also gave some advice on how the singer could improve her oral health, recommending that she uses an herbal mouthwash twice a day to improve gum and mouth problems.

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