School toothbrushing scheme is a success

Date posted: May 2, 2014


With ever increasing concerns over the dental health of schoolchildren, a scheme running in schools in Brighouse is proving to be a success.

Run by Leeds Beckett University in partnership with South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the tooth-brushing scheme is currently running in 33 schools and children’s centres in Brighouse, and recent research carried out by the university shows that the rate of tooth decay in children aged between 3 and 5 is decreasing.

The initiative teaches children how to properly brush their teeth, a lesson some experts worry is not being taught at home. It also enforces general good dental health habits, which will ensure children can maintain good oral hygiene as they grow older. The programme supplies each child with a toothbrush and toothpaste.

This follows proposals by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in October suggesting that schools help children brush their teeth. Though thousands of children suffer from tooth decay each year, this and gum disease are two of the most easily preventable dental problems.

At the time, Professor Elizabeth Kay of the Peninsula Dental School at Plymouth University, and one of the experts advising on NICE’s guidelines, wanted it to be clear that while a school brushing scheme would be ideal in helping combat tooth decay in young children, it would not be an excuse for parents to not properly teach their children about the importance of oral hygiene.

Dr James Woodall, co-director of the Centre for Health Promotion Research at Leeds Beckett University, states that ‘including brushing in a daily school schedule’ is possible according to studies, as well as promoting good habits and lowering the risk of dental problems in children.

Kath Halstead of South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust adds that the successful scheme is providing children with ‘valuable life skill’.

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Fluoride plans abandoned

Date posted: May 2, 2014


Plans to add fluoride to drinking water in Southampton have been cancelled.

It was proposed fluoride be added to the drinking water of Southampton and surrounding areas, affecting the 160,000 people living in Southampton, and a further 35,000 living nearby. However, Public Health England (PHE) issued a statement saying that will be taking no further action to implement the plans.

While PHE supports water fluoridation as an effective measure of tackling tooth decay in children, it does not wish to ‘proceed without the backing of Southampton City Council’, as this is where the majority live who would be affected.

Duncan Selbie, PHE chief executive, regrets having to stop the plans, but believes it is ‘the right decision in the circumstances’. While water fluoridation could make a significant different to the oral health of children in the area, particularly those in socially deprived locations, Selbie plans to continue to work with the City Council in order to find new ways of tackling the serious problem of tooth decay in young children.

Cllr Royston Smith is happy to hear the news, claiming that PHE did not properly consult the public on the matter, and hopes that this will ensure PHE listens more carefully to local residents’ concerns and will not fluoridate the water.

Similarly, Professor Stephen Peckham, part of the Hampshire Against Fluoridation campaign group, is glad to hear of the decision, noting that he does not believe there was a ‘groundswell of support’, and that it was the only decision possible.

He adds that he hopes this means the council will take more interest in how to educate people on maintaining good dental health, particularly in children, in terms of developing schemes that address issues such as tooth brushing.

Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Noakes, is equally pleased with outcome, noting that it is one they have been waiting for for a long time, and believes it will be a relief to those who have campaigned hard on the issue.

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How to make dentist visits less stressful

Date posted: May 2, 2014


Though they are only there to help, many of us are still scared of the dentist. However, there are things you can do to make your visit more pleasant.

If you are still afraid of going to see the dentist, you are not alone, but conquering your fear and making trips there more enjoyable is for the best, as it means you will not be discouraged from going back in the future. Seeing the dentist regularly is a key part of a good oral health routine, and it is better to try out some new ways of relaxing than start skipping visits and putting your teeth at risk.

Before you even leave for the dentist, try getting into a calmer state of mind. Try meditation, yoga, or a nice walk to stay active, or instead indulge in a hot bath to feel more peaceful. On the way to the practice, listen to calming music so that you’ll feel happier walking in.

Don’t forget to leave yourself plenty of time to reach the dentist. Setting off too late and getting caught in traffic will undo any sense of calm you have achieved, and instead will leave you feeling more stressed out. Give yourself enough time to arrive, fill in any paperwork, and sit for a few moments in the waiting room.

Once you arrive at the dentist, remember that communication is key. Bear in mind that the dentist is just another person, and they want what is best for you and your teeth. If you feel nervous, tell them before you get in the chair, and if necessary, have them explain everything they’re going to do, and ask them to give you advice on how to be more comfortable. If you feel well-informed, you’ll feel more in control of the situation, and everything will feel less stressful.

Finally, you’ll feel a lot less nervous about heading to the dentist if you can be confident that your teeth are in good condition. Keep up a good dental health routine by brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time, and flossing once a day, to reduce the risk of problems such as tooth decay, weakened enamel and gum disease. A healthy diet will also help keep your teeth healthy, as well as your body.

Knowing you have great dental health will mean there’s no need for the dentist to prolong your visit by fixing any problems, while using other methods to keep calm will help if you do happen to need any work done.

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New EU project aims to study gum disease and improve treatment

Date posted: May 2, 2014

‘Trigger’ is a new EU project bringing together various research institutions to better study gum disease.

According to data published by the World Health Organisation, just under two thirds of all adults suffer from inflamed gums, which can cause them to bleed, swell further, or even recede. If it continues to go untreated, gum disease can become so bad that teeth loosen and actually fall out of the mouth.

However, the causes and effects of gum disease are not the focus of the new EU study, but rather the link between gum inflammation and other diseases such as cardiopulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s, among others.

‘Trigger’ brings together 11 research institutions in Europe from 9 different countries, and is focused on studying gum disease. The aim is to prove a connection between gum disease and these other diseases so that they might be able to recommend courses of treatment.

There are already numerous studies that suggest oral health is a key indicator of general health, and that problems with the mouth can indicate wider bodily health problems.

One of the tasks Trigger is attempting to complete is developing a substance that will effectively target oral germs. A key bacteria in the development of gum disease is Porphyromonas gingivalis, which is highly toxic and affects the connective tissue of the gum. The research group is hoping to develop something which will inhibit the bacteria’s action, and stop it destroying the gum and bone tissue surrounding the teeth.

Though a group has had success in this effort before, much more work needs to be done before any sort of medicine can be introduced to the market. In the meantime, gum disease can be prevented by maintaining good dental hygiene, meaning brushing teeth properly twice a day, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash.

Bleeding gums is already a sign of very mild gum disease – if the problem persists, consult a dentist as soon as possible, as the disease will only get worse if not prevented.

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Having a healthy Halloween

Date posted: November 26, 2013


While Halloween is exciting for children, it can be a time of concern for parents who are worried about them eating lots of sweets and chocolate. However, Halloween doesn’t have to be a problem.

Instead of worrying about trick or treating, use Halloween as a great opportunity to teach your kids about dental hygiene and eating treats in moderation.

Trying to stop children from eating sweets altogether at Halloween is a bad idea, as it can send them the wrong message about leading a healthy diet. It can also make eating sweets and chocolate more of a temptation, which may result in children sneaking food away, or eating lots of it when you are not around.

Instead, just be a little strict when it comes to the trick or treat bags they arrive home with. Rather than leaving the pile of sweets out so they can help themselves at any time, set a specific time of day for them to have one or two treats – this ensures they do not eat too many in one go, and they’ll be less tempted to snack on other unhealthy foods for the rest of the day. Bear in mind that this should not continue for months though – many dentists believe that this type of ‘chronic’ exposure is what puts children at higher risk of tooth decay.

If need be, impose a limit right from when they arrive home, by picking out a certain number of favourite goodies, then getting rid of the rest. Letting children set their own limit helps them learn ideas of what a healthy amount of sugar is, so that this stays with them when they grow older. Try and make them think in terms of too many sweets leading to oral health problems, rather than just that all sweets and chocolates are bad.

Crucial to maintaining good dental health during any holiday is keeping up a regular routine of brushing and flossing. It can be very easy to let routines slide during busy times of the year, but this is probably the most important time to remember. You could always use Halloween as a great time to buy a new toothbrush – they need replacing every few months anyway, and children are always eager to use new toothbrushes straight away.

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New dental implant material

Date posted: November 26, 2013


A new material for dental implants has been proposed by an expert research team, which could improve on the current options.

A group of experts from the Autonomous University of Baja California in eastern Mexico have designed a new material for dental implants which they are hoping will improve the field.

Using a mixture of polymer with ceramic and a light consistency, the team hopes this could replace the titanium screws in use at the moment, which can be susceptible to corrosion.

During testing, the group recreated the chewing process, in order to optimise performance, with the aim of ensuring the implant could withstand the stress of eating, as opposed to the actual bone structure.

With the new material posing an alternative to titanium corrosion, and helping protect the bone when chewing, it could be a serious consideration for the future of dental implants. The team also tried to take into consideration the affordability of these implants, as dental implants can already be an expensive, if worthwhile, investment.

Before officially introducing the new implants to the market, the team want to try and lower the stress levels even further by using mathematical formulas.

It has also been proposed that the implants be covered with vitamin D, as it can encourage the production of bone tissue around the implant, helping strengthen it even further, and reduce the risk of bone tissue loss, a problem occasionally encountered with dental implants.

Once all of the tests are finished, the results will be analysed alongside regular dental implants, and it will be determined if the new polymer implants are a viable alternative to the traditional titanium screw with a false tooth attached to the top. The aim of the research was to create an implant that could improve oral health as well as reducing costs.

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