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Cooling face mask developed to help tackle dental pain


A new chilled face mask has been developed to help reduce toothache following a wisdom tooth extraction; the product, based on the same cooling technology designed to ease the pain of arthritis, has gone to clinical trials and patients will have to wear it for an hour after having a wisdom tooth removed.

The mask, called Hilotherm mask is supposed to narrow blood vessels and limit blood flow to damaged areas of tissue, which reduces inflammation, swelling and discomfort. The product is currently on trial at King’s College Hospital NHS Trust has tubes running through it that keep the temperature steady and prevent the blood vessels from widening again, as it has been suggested they do if the temperature drops below 15c. The mask is designed to be placed on the patients face straight after a wisdom tooth has been taken out and it could help to boost healing rates as well as reducing pain.

The British Dental Association’s scientific adviser, Professor Damien Walmsley, commented that ‘we look forward to the results of the trial – if positive it will be of great benefits to patients. The treatment also has the advantage of being a relatively low cost approach to a common problem in healthcare.’

Dentists warn that patients are at risk due to the rising cost of dental treatment


Almost a million people in the UK have avoided attending dental appointments since 2010 because they are unable to afford the rising cost of care – some patients are at risk of overdosing on painkillers as they try to self-medicate in an attempt to avoid the high prices of NHS dentistry.

NHS England revealed that 951,000 people in the UK chose not to visit the dentist when they needed to in the last four years, as the cost of a basic NHS check-up rose 12% during that time period – rising from £16.50 to £18.50.

Nurse Michelle Good man at the NHS 111 helpline told the Mirror that there has been a ‘huge increase’ in patients trying to access treatment but being unable to do so due to the cost. She added that this has caused some to ‘unintentionally overdose with over-the-counter analgesics.’

This rise in dental patients avoiding the dentist has also put pressure onto hospitals that are already over-stretched as many people have decided to go to A&E so that they don’t have to pay for treatment for things like toothache. This problem has been called a ‘false economy’ by shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.

New ‘selfie’ pose mimicking toothache takes off


There have been numerous different poses that have gone in and out of fashion over the years, and with the ever increasing popularity of online social media, it looks like the ‘selfie’ is set to evolve much more in the future – if current trends are anything to go by. The newest form of selfie – a photograph taken by the subject of the picture – is known as the ‘cavity pose.’

As ridiculous as it may sound, the latest selfie trend is for subjects to pose like they have toothache, with one hand up against the cheek as though they are in pain. Japan has been the origin of many strange online trends and this is their newest wacky idea that is set to sweep the internet – according to website Kotaku, the first to notice the selfie pose catching on. The site explains that ‘the gesture makes one’s face appear smaller, and small faces are considered attractive in Japan.

The pose has now been spotted on the front of six Japanese fashion magazines and a picture showing the covers has been retweeted over 35,000 times. It seems the craze may be catching on too, as more and more Twitter and Instagram users are joining in, posting their own ‘cavity pose’ pictures online.

Nuts gave Stone Age man toothache


According to new research revealed by scientists at the London Natural History Museum, Stone Age man suffered toothache from consuming a diet of acorns and pine nuts. Teeth were taken from 52 skeletons dating back over 13,700 years and they showed evidence of decay, with only three of those examples cavity-free.

The hunter-gatherers had to feed themselves before farming became the norm and scientists believe that the dependence on a diet of wild acorns and pine nuts brought about dental problems for early man. Both products contain high levels of fermentable carbohydrates that can cause decay if they are not cleaned away from the teeth after eating; they lodge themselves between the teeth and attract oral bacteria.

Stone age men are also believed to have lived a sedentary lifestyle due to a reliance on wild nuts; researcher Isabelle De Groote, from the Museum, said ‘These people’s mouths were often affected by both cavities in the teeth and abscesses, and they would have suffered from frequent toothache.’

The skeletons used during the research were recovered from a cave system in Taforalt, Morocco, where numerous Stone Age remains have been located. Charred samples of food were also found and palaeobotanist Dr Jacob Morales explains that ‘We use charred fragments to identify plants that were carried back to the cave, including food items, such as acorns and pine nuts, and grasses that were used to make baskets.’

Burglar blames toothache for jail sentence


A serial criminal has been jailed for five years after he returned to crime following a bad bout of toothache; Matthew Jackman was a recovering heroin addict but fell back into old habits after he used morphine patches to control serious dental pain. The 51-year-old has a long history of criminal activity but had managed to stay out of trouble after being released from prison in 2010, until he turned to drink and morphine patches to try and dull the toothache.

Mr Stephen Nunn, defending, cited his clients health issues as a reason for his behaviour; ‘He is 51 and has not been in trouble for a long time. He has heart problems and had difficulty with toothache, for which a friend gave him morphine painkilling patches. He had been on methadone and he also used alcohol before committing the offence.’

The Exeter native admitted burglary, aggravated vehicle taking and driving while disqualified, Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, told the defendant that he has a ‘very bad record for dwelling house burglary’ and that police found him standing next to a stolen car ‘wondering what to do next’ after crashing the vehicle. Mr David Bowen, prosecuting, explained that Jackman’s previous offenses meant that he should be subject to a minimum of three years in jail, despite the dental problems.

Convict escapes Swedish jail to attend dental appointment


A convict escaped from a jail in Sweden because is toothache had become unbearable and he wanted to see a dentist. The 51-year-old prisoner, who has not been named, was serving a one month sentence at the Östragård open prison in Väners­borg when he decided to escape after prison officers did not arrange treatment for a painful molar.

The prisoner complained to officials inside the prison that his toothache was becoming extremely painful but was left to deal with the discomfort for days without any form of treatment. He told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter ‘I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I was all swollen in the face.’ Because the facility is minimum security, it was not too difficult for him to simply walk out of the jail and find a dentist in the town centre who removed the painful tooth; he then handed himself into police who escorted him back to the prison.

The man was given a warning by prison staff and had his sentence extended by one day. He remained locked up for the rest of his time at the prison but has since been released; he told the newspaper that he did not regret the escape and was ‘still happy to have gotten rid of the toothache.’

Nursery dental care scheme reduces decay in Scotland


A new tooth brushing programme implemented across Scotland has led to a sharp decline in tooth decay among young children and saved £6 million in the cost of dental treatment for the under-five’s. A study carried out by the University of Glasgow showed that the initiative had reduced the cost of treating dental problems by more than 50% from 2001/02 to 2009/10, when the programme was originally introduced.

The scheme involves every nursery in Scotland offering free daily tooth brushing for children by nursery staff; it costs around £1.8million per year. As part of the Childsmile programme, the daily brushing is also accompanied by information about the importance of dental health and good diet choices from an early age.

Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson called the changes an ‘amazing achievement’ and said that the simple programme showed ‘just how much can be saved’. He went on to say that the Childsmile scheme had resulted in ‘less tooth decay in children which means less toothache, fewer sleepless nights and less time off school.’ He also praised the initiative for reducing financial pressures on the NHS because dental disease in five-year-olds has decreased. Matheson lastly added that ‘More children can just be treated routinely in the dental chair because they need less invasive treatments, so fewer fillings and fewer extractions, and many more children with much better oral health than we have seen in many years.’

Dentists travel to Morocco to help impoverished children


A team of dentists has travelled to Morocco to help its poorest children with chronic toothache; the country has no free dental care and this means that many impoverished families rely on a basic diet of honey and sweet mint tea, leading to dental problems. One of the organisers of the charity trip, Chris Branfield, said that the philosophy behind the journey was to make sure that children are no longer in pain and that the treatment is carried out humanely. He also commented that the process was ‘draining, because you wear your heart on your sleeve and you get a lot of love in the room. You’re just constantly reaffirming to the kids that you’re trying to help.’

The trip was the fourth time Chris has visited Morocco but only the first time he ventured into the remote highlands of the Rif Mountains, to the village of Merchekala. Chris was stunned by the conditions the children were in, saying ‘the kids were filthy, they had sores on their faces and their teeth were shocking.’ He went on to say that the team were performing extractions on children as young as three years old, in order to combat tooth decay and reduce toothache.

Chris and the team treated more than 260 children in the village, and 200 more in nearby El Jebah; sometimes working into the night after delays forced them to start late in the morning. Chris said that ‘Each year there are always challenges we face, last year we go stopped at customs and had our trailer with all our gear confiscated for three days.’

The Dental Mavericks, as they are known, work with charities Dentaid and Rifcom to provide their treatment and next year they are hoping to bring more equipment to administer fillings as well as remove teeth.

Buxton woman gets £22,000 in compensation for poor dental work


A forty-year-old woman has been awarded £22,000 in compensation after eight of her teeth were removed and she suffered with painful dental infection;  Sarah Taylor sued Dr Allan Clark for the work carried out at Broadwalk Dental Practice in Buxton after she was left requiring expensive restorative care, including bridges, crowns, dentures, and repeated root canals.

Sarah told The Derbyshire Times ‘My treatment began in November 1993 when I went to see Dr Clark with bad toothache in two teeth on the left side of my mouth. He told me I needed two fillings. I returned in June with continued pain and had a further three fillings. Days later I made another appointment with toothache but more severe than before.’

Dr Clark went on to remove one of the teeth that had already been filled, which Sarah described as ‘mortifying’ as this treatment had not been discussed prior to the appointment. She added that ‘it was all downhill from there,’ as she visited the clinic 39 times over the next 16 years until her final treatment in December 2009. Sarah explained that Dr Clark ‘attempted to remove another two of my teeth in August 2007, and I also developed 12 teeth and gum infections during my time in his care.’

The Dental Law Partnership took on the case and found evidence that Sarah had suffered as a direct result of Dr Clark’s care. Sarah commented that the compensation meant that she could move on from her dental problems, saying ‘I’m glad this chapter of my life has been closed and this has now been settled.’

Patient is awarded £6,000 pay-out for botched dental work


A man from Grimsby has been awarded £6,000 in compensation after his dental work left him in pain for years and he had to undergo expensive restorative care. Dockworker Darren Aldous, of Immingham, first visited the Medimatch dental clinic in Grimsby back in 2008 and decided to sue Dr Ruben Martinez, Dr Guillermo Dominguez, and Dr Ignacio Puertas after they failed to diagnose severe tooth decay in several of his teeth. The dentists, who no longer work at the practice, agreed an out-of-court settlement.

Mr Aldous told the Grimsby Telegraph that he suffered badly with toothache and found it stressful trying to deal with the situation as a single parent. He said ‘I lost confidence because the first thing people see when you meet is a smile and when people don’t see a smile, you end up feeling isolated.’ Regarding his botched treatment, Darren explained ‘I went to Dr Martinez in June 2008 because I had really painful toothache. I was told I needed three fillings. With this being routine treatment I wasn’t worried at the time’.

Darren returned with more pain in October and Dr Dominguez took some x-rays that showed the decay had developed further and there was a root left in the socket from previous tooth extraction – the root was removed but it was claimed that Dr Dominguez failed to treat the tooth decay adequately with a single filling in March 2009.

Following months of on-going treatment, which included six fillings and two tooth restorations performed by Dr Puertas in early 2010, Darren decided to register with a different dentist and pursue legal action. His Lawyer from the DLP argued that ‘X-rays clearly showed several of Darren’s teeth were decaying. We would claim each dentist had the opportunity to diagnose and treat this but failed to do so. Darren now has to undergo several root canal treatments and have crowns fitted as a result of their treatment.’

None of the dentists admit liability.

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