By ERNIE WRIGHT
Oral Health Month is here again, so what state is the nation’s oral health in and, more importantly, how does the public think dentists are doing?
Since this time last year the issue of sugar in our diets has become a mainstream issue, but in a recent Colgate study three in ten dentists admitted they know very little about hidden sugars, while 28 percent agreed it is very difficult to avoid buying foods that do not pose a caries risk.
Meanwhile more shocking figures continue to emerge about the poor state of oral health in British children. NHS data shows that children in Manchester were having a tooth filled every three minutes on average last year and almost half of five-year-olds in Salford and Oldham now have decayed, missing or filled teeth.
With news stories like this and poor information on NHS services – Healthwatch England recently said that patients are experiencing “increasing frustration” about NHS dentistry as they struggle to know where to turn – the public probably don’t think dentists are doing very well, however unfair that seems.
If it’s any consolation, it’s not just us. Across the pond the number of people attending A&E with dental pain has doubled in the decade to 2010, with 80 per cent of these visits concerning preventable conditions such as abscesses and cavities. Nearly one in four children under the age of five in the US already has cavities and tooth decay is five times more common than asthma in children.
One way the Americans are attempting to address their oral health crisis is by boosting care available to people in need. It’s a big job because some states have a very long way to go. In Ohio, for example, 52 out of a total of 88 counties are considered as being dental-health-shortage areas by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Tribal leaders in Alaska took matters into their own hands in 2004 by sending young people to train as mid-level dental therapists in New Zealand. Ten years later in 2014 communities are seeing cavity-free kids for the first time since the 1930s. Could care in the community with remote supervision by dentists help children in the UK?
Ernie Wright is Lead coach: business processes and people management at Breathe Business. Contact her on 0845 299 7209 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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