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Statistics show that 24million Brits do not brush their teeth at least once a day


According to new research, a shocking number of Britons do not take their oral health seriously and fail to brush their teeth at least once a day. The report suggests that over 24 million people in Britain fail to brush regularly, despite the fact that around four in ten admit to feeling self-conscious about the way their teeth look.

Brits between the ages of 26 and 34 were the worst culprits for neglecting their dental health, with over half of respondents admitting that they did not brush at least once a day. People over the age of 55 were the most conscious brushers, with 68% brushing at least once during the day. The counties with the best oral hygiene turned out to be the north east, the south east, and East Anglia. The worst offenders were London, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

The research involved a survey of 2,000 adults in the UK, to find out how Brits feel about their teeth and also the teeth of others around them. Almost a quarter of those asked said that they were ashamed by the condition of their teeth and a shocking 40% said that they would never show their teeth while smiling.


Cardiff dentist plans to travel to Calais to help refugees with dental care


A Cardiff dentist has said he would like to travel to Calais next month to help provide refugees with dental treatment; Raid Ali, 42, was born in Iraq and moved to Wales in 1998 where he lives with his wife and three children. Ali has been a qualified dentist for almost twenty years and is planning to use these skills to help refugees in Calais with their dental health, as well as providing medical help at the French port.

Raid called his trip a ‘humanitarian thing’ and added that he ‘really wanted to help’ the people who are fleeing warzones and looking for a better life in the UK. He told walesonline ‘A lot of people have been collecting and donating items but I don’t think a lot of people can give what I can give, which is medical and dental care.’

Raid, who runs his own dental practice, said that he would be willing to travel to help people all over Europe if necessary and he explained that, as the refugee crisis worsens, he felt he should do something to help the people in need. He said ‘Even if there are already doctors at refugee camps around Europe there may be language barrier problems. I could be there to translate for them, especially medical terms which can be quite hard to communicate.’

Dental patients warned that their weight could see them turned away at the clinic


A dental surgery in Wales has sent patients letters telling them that they will be referred to a hospital for treatment if they are overweight, citing the safety of staff and the expensive dental equipment as reasons for the warning.

Maendy Dental Practice in Aberdare says that it has been forced to stop morbidly obese patients from visiting the surgery because the chairs cannot hold them; if the chair cannot move properly when the patient is seated, the letter states that they will be referred to a hospital for continued treatment.

The letter says that ‘the dental chair has a weight limit restriction’ and if patients are too heavy for this the treatment will have to be carried out at a hospital, where the right equipment can be provided. The specialist chairs cost at least £7,500 and can’t hold anyone over the weight of twenty stone. A spokeswoman for the dental practice said ‘we have found that more and more patients are coming into the practice a bit larger so when the chair is moved back we cannot operate it properly.’ She added ‘Some people who visit us are unable to move themselves in and out of the chair so we want to make sure staff don’t injure themselves when they help lift them.’

The letters have been sent out since May after posters around the surgery went unnoticed and obese patients continued to arrive for appointments.

New reports show that two-thirds of Welsh children have tooth decay


According to new statistics released by The Children’s Dental Healthy Survey 2013 children in Wales are suffering with more tooth decay than their English equivalents; the survey revealed that 63% of 15-year-olds in Wales had some level of tooth decay, compared to 41% in England. Furthermore, 22% of Welsh children between the ages of five and 15 were found to have severe or extensive decay, around 10% more than English children in the same age bracket.

It was revealed that only a third of children of all ages in Wales were viewed to have a good level of oral health. Although the dental health of Welsh children is in worse condition than those in England, overall it has improved in Wales since 2003, as the Welsh Government set up the Designed to Smile programme in 2008.

The Welsh Government released a statement in response to the survey, saying that the results showed ‘a relatively high proportion of children who live in disadvantaged areas and who generally have the poorest oral health’. The spokesperson added ‘whilst it is too soon to gauge the full impact of Designed to Smile, our most recent monitoring survey showed a 6% drop in the proportion of five-year-olds with dental decay.’

Around 4,000 children in Wales are waiting over three years for braces


According to one NHS orthodontist, thousands of children in west Wales are waiting years to get orthodontic treatment, due to lack of funding caused by a massive backlog in patient care. It has been suggested that even if funding was doubled, waiting lists in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, would take five years to clear.

David Howells, who runs Pencastell Orthodontics, the only NHS Orthodontist in west Wales, spoke to BBC Radio Wales about the problem, saying that the clinic only has the capacity to treat around 800 cases a year, leaving thousands of children waiting longer than three years to get the orthodontic treatment they need. Mr Howells blamed the problem on NHS funding, rather than the lack of available dentists; he also added that the issue began in 2006 when new dental contracts were imposed on NHS dentists. He explained that dental practices used to manage their own patient lists but with the health board taking over this aspect of treatment it has led to ‘wasted funding’ which could be used to help more patients.

The Welsh government released a statement saying that an outreach programme had been set up to try and combat the problem. The statement said that the government has invested £700,000 in improving patient referrals for dental and orthodontic treatment, in an effort to make the system ‘more efficient and reduce waiting times.’

Welsh baby born with two teeth


A new mum was surprised to find that her baby was born with two teeth on the bottom jaw, and she tells Walesonline that she was worried about being bitten while feeding the new-born. Chloe Pullen, of Patmawr in Wales, gave birth to baby Rose Esme on August 22nd and the two teeth immediately drew some attention from hospital staff.

Chloe told the paper that the midwives all came to have a look at the teeth and admitted that she was ‘in shock’ by their appearance. The 25-year-old, also mum to Daniel, 2, added that family and friends could not believe it when they were sent a picture of baby Rose. Chloe said that she was worried about breastfeeding her daughter but said she ‘could not actually feel her teeth.’

Apparently the rarity is a family trait, as Chloe’s mother was also born with one front tooth; she said ‘My mum didn’t realise she had been born with teeth until her sister told her after Rose was born.’

The teeth were removed three days after Rose was born but doctors say she should not have any trouble growing a full set of milk teeth. Chloe has stored the early teeth in a jar and expressed her surprise that she was saving teeth so soon after Rose’s birth, saying ‘I also never expected that she would get a visit from the tooth fairy before her brother’.

Children’s dental health is improving in Wales


New reports published by the Welsh Oral Health Information Unit suggest that the dental health of children in Wales has improved since 2004-2005 and the proportion of 12-year-olds with no tooth decay has risen from 54.9% to 64.0% since that time period. There is still a strong link between the level of dental decay and deprivation but the figures show that there is a faster improvement among children in deprived areas of the country.

Health Minister Mark Drakeford called the report ‘encouraging’ and said that is ‘shows a very welcome reduction in the number of 12-year-old children in Wales with tooth decay. It is a significant achievement that we have managed to halve the prevalence of what is a chronic disease over the last 25 years.’

Mr Drakeford went on to talk about the Designed to Smile programme that has been working to eliminate decay among younger children, saying that the effects should be noticeable in future surveys on the subject. The initiative was rolled out across Wales in 2009 to highlight the importance of decay prevention and the link between oral health, nutrition, and general health. Mr Drakeford added that they hope the programme ‘will have had a positive impact in speeding up improvements in the oral health of children living in some of our more deprived communities.’

Nearly half of Welsh people have not visited an NHS dentist in two years


According to statistics released by the Welsh government, almost half of Welsh people have not received NHS dental care in over two years. The figures show that 54.7% of the population, which amounts to 1.7million patients – received dental treatment under the NHS in the two years ending March 31st, 2014. More than a third of children did not visit an NHS dentist, with just under two thirds of under eighteens undergoing dental treatment during the same time period.

Although the figures are damning, the Welsh Government maintains that this is not an accurate representation of the nation’s dental health, as the statistics do not take into account those who have been treated by the Community Dental Service or have chosen to undergo treatment privately.

Opposition political parties suggest that more should be done to increase access to NHS dentists. Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said ‘In 2006, the Welsh Labour Government set a 100% target for everyone in Wales to have access to an NHS dentist. That target has since been quietly dropped. This has led to many Welsh people being unable to access an NHS dentist.’ She added that just one dentist out of 61 practices in Cardiff and one out of 42 in Swansea were accepting new NHS patients.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said that according to the Welsh Health Survey ‘more than 70% of people reported seeing a dentist in the last 12 months. There are some 33,000 more patients accessing NHS general dental services that there were three years ago. We are continuing to take action to make sure everyone in Wales, no matter where they live, has access to NHS dental care when they need it.’

Dental students in Wales are fed up to the back teeth at being denied places on a vital course which enables them to work in the NHS.


Professor Michael Lewis, the Dean of Cardiff University’s School of Dentistry has pointed out an anomaly which is jeopardising his students’ career opportunities.

As part of their training, dentistry students have to complete a year-long Dental Foundation (DF1) Training Course within a practice in order to work as a dentist within the NHS.

But Professor Lewis claims that dentists from Europe are exempt from this and UK graduates are therefore losing positions to fellow graduates who have come from overseas, attracted by the prospects that UK dentistry has to offer.

He points out that graduates in the UK must complete the NHS-funded DFI Training within 18 months of finishing their fourth year. If a graduate fails to secure a training place within this time limit, options to pursue their chosen career will be limited.

Professor Lewis is adamant that the system should be changed to protect UK dentists and the investment that has been made in their training.

The current system means that students in this country could be up to

£50,000 in debt by the time they apply for the course, and in addition, it is estimated that it costs the taxpayer more than

£100,000 to train each graduate dentists. In 2012, 35 UK graduates were denied DF1funding.

Professor Lewis would like to move to a system where the DF1 places are locked on for the UK graduates when they start the course, so that when people are being taken on, it is known that they are going to be able to receive the necessary training. Otherwise, he says, it is a significant waste of taxpayers’ money and a tragedy for the graduates who have taken on large amounts of debt in order to pursue their vocation.

The Welsh Government has said that it is well aware of an increased demand from European students, but it believes that all the Cardiff graduates were either in DF1 training or in other employment.

However, the students themselves are concerned that the 35 people who did not get DF1 training in 2012 will have a snowball effect, because they would be trying again in 2013. A spokesman said that it was such a stress thinking about the five years training and finding out that they could not get work at the end of it.

Nearly half of the people in Wales have not visited an NHS dentist in two years


Figures released by the Welsh Government have shown that almost half the population did not visit the dentist at all over the last two years. Statistics revealed that only 55.7% of the people in Wales were recorded to have visited an NHS dentist in the past twenty-four months, with a total of 1.5million procedures being carried out during this time. Although this is an increase of 1.8% from 2010-2011, a large number of people have not been able to access NHS treatment because of the number of dentists available and concern over price.

Dental hygienist Alison Lowe, based in Cardiff, said that ‘access to dental care is still difficult. People still find that they cannot get an NHS dentist and because of the financial climate people are reluctant to pay for work as well.’ She went on to say that the cost of future dental treatment was also of some concern to the Welsh public, adding ‘Many worry that they won’t be able to afford dental care now and in the future and younger people are now more inclined to seek private treatment. Emergency dental services on weekends are full and people just cannot afford to pay for it.’

Only last month the Welsh Government launched Together for Health, a programme designed to reduce oral health inequalities over the next five years. Health minister Lesley Griffiths said that ‘Oral health is an intrinsic part of general health and prevention is at the core of the draft plan.’

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