March 20th, 2019
New data published by Public Health England has confirmed that over 90% of extraction procedures carried out in hospitals in England are required for extensive decay. Nine out of ten children aged 0-5 need treatment in hospital as a result of a dental disease, which is almost always preventable.
Research suggests that there has been an overall improvement in children’s dental health in the last year, but standards are falling in younger children under the age of 5. Dental problems are also still the most common reason for hospital admission among children aged between 6 and 10 years old.
Dental decay can cause severe pain and low self-esteem, and studies show that the need for extractions under general anaesthetic contributes to around 60,000 missed school days per year.
One of the main causes of decay is excessive sugar consumption. There has been a slight decline in consumption in the last year, but data shows that a large proportion of kids are still consuming far more than the recommended daily intake. The average child is taking in the equivalent of 8 more cubes than the recommended quantity.
Public Health England’s Change4Life campaign is encouraging parents and children to be more aware of sugar content, and to make healthy swaps, which will reduce the average daily intake of the entire family. Cereals, flavoured yoghurts, fizzy drinks and juices, dried fruit, and cereal bars are all products that often contain high levels of sugar. Health experts are encouraging parents to read food labels and to stick to whole grain cereals and porridge, natural yoghurt and water and milk. The Change4Life website also has information about healthy snacking, after it was revealed that many children consume the recommended daily intake of sugar through snacking alone.
In addition to making healthy food swaps, Public Health England is also eager to promote regular routine dental checks from the age of 12 months, and twice-daily brushing.
January 9th, 2019
New research has suggested that berries could hold the key to healthy smiles.
Scientists have discovered that dark berries, including blueberries and cranberries, contain nutrients, which could help to reduce the risk of dental decay. The research, which has been published in the European Journal of Oral Sciences, suggests that these berries contain nutrients that protect the teeth against specific strains of bacteria, which are proven to accelerate decay.
The study builds on previous research, which suggests that polyphenols, which are key nutrients found in berries, play a useful role in promoting good oral health by preventing harmful bacteria from clinging to the tooth surfaces. By preventing bacteria sticking to the teeth, polyphenols could subsequently help to prevent gum disease, decay and bad breath.
During the trial period, researchers used high-quality extracts of three different types of berries, strawberries, cranberries and blueberries and a mixture of all three (known as orophenol) to treat Streptococcus mutans biofilms. These biofilms were 24 hours old and they were assessed and analysed by the research team to evaluate “metabolic activity, acidogenicity, biovolumes, structural organisation and bacterial viability.”
Researchers found that the cranberry and orophenol extracts brought about the most significant reductions in metabolic activity and acid production. The blueberry extract also produced significant reductions when used at the highest concentration.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, said that nutrients found in fruit and vegetables are essential for good oral health, as well as general health, and suggested that polyphenols could potentially have a role to play in the future of manufacturing oral hygiene products. In addition to protecting the teeth, cranberries and blueberries are delicious, they’re a sweet treat, and the best thing is that they contain only natural sugars.
November 28th, 2018
The Mayor of London has announced plans to implement a ban on junk food advertising on the tube.
Under new guidelines, adverts for products that are high in fat, salt, and sugar will not be permitted on the underground. The ban will also include overground stations and bus stations and stops.
Sadiq Khan said that the measure would hopefully help to combat the “ticking time bomb” of childhood obesity in the city and contribute to healthier lifestyle choices and lower rates of dental disease. Tube stations and bus stops currently feature posters advertising items and products from fast food meals and chocolate bars to fizzy pop and energy drinks. The new ban will reduce exposure to junk food advertising for people who travel on the underground or via buses or trains on a regular basis.
Studies show that advertising can have a significant influence on consumer habits, and ministers are clamping down on advertising across the board. There are already bans in place at certain times of the day on TV, and shops and supermarkets are also being urged to eradicate displays of sugary and fatty foods close to the tills.
The TFL ban will come into play on the 25th February and will cover all areas and networks that are managed by TFL.
A consultation on the matter revealed widespread support for the ban. Of the 1,500 survey respondents, 82% supported the idea.
Mayor Khan said that it was crucial to take “tough action” to tackle preventable childhood illnesses, such as obesity, and stated that preventing exposure to advertising would make a difference, not just to children, but also to their parents and carers.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, described the ban as an “important step in the right direction.”
November 21st, 2018
Professor Michael Lennon OBE, from the School of Clinical Dentistry at the University of Sheffield, has called for water fluoridation to be a focal point of new preventative measures revealed by the Department of Health.
Recently, the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that he was implanting a plan for the NHS, which concentrates on prevention rather than cure. The measures will be included in a green paper, which will be launched in 2019. Mr Hancock is trying to shift the balance between investing in treatments and therapies and spending more on prevention. Currently, there’s a huge gulf in spending, and the MP believes that focusing on prevention will save the NHS substantial amounts of money, as well as reducing the number of deaths related to preventable risk factors.
Prof Lennon has backed Mr Hancock’s suggestions, and is now urging the government to consider water fluoridation as a measure to prevent decay and improve standards of oral health, especially in deprived areas. Mr Lennon, a former chair of the British Fluoridation Society, claimed that there needs to be an impetus on protecting childrens’ teeth, and used the example of conflict in Hull to demonstrate just how difficult it is to promote fluoridation at present. Hull and East Yorkshire’s Local Dental Committee has been trying to implement fluoridation for some time, but members have been faced with opposition.
Recently, MP Alan Johnson spoke out in favour of water fluoridation, and studies suggest that it is an effective measure, which fits in with the government’s desire to invest in prevention. Public Health England has released research suggesting that fluoridation provides an impressive return on investment.
Prof Lennon has also highlighted the need for more money to be made available for fluoridation, and suggested that the government encourage local authorities to be more open to supporting the use of fluoride.
September 26th, 2018
A new study, which has been published in the British Dental Journal, has criticised cereal manufacturers for depicting portion sizes that are far too large. Experts believe that cereal boxes show serving suggestions that are far bigger than a standard portion, which could confuse consumers and contribute to excessive sugar consumption.
Researchers discovered that popular cereals, including Frosties, Coco Pops and Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, are packaged in boxes emblazoned with images of bowls overflowing with cereal. In some cases, the pictures show a serving size of approximately 90 grams, despite the fact that most manufacturers recommend a portion size of 30 grams. According to the new study, if the imagery was correct, children aged up to 10 could be consuming more than half their daily sugar intake in a single bowl of cereal.
As part of the study, researchers analysed the packaging and nutritional information of 13 popular cereal products. They discovered that the sugar content of several well-known options equated to more than a third of the total weight. The team also claim that if the imagery on the box was used as a template for buyers, 8 of the 13 cereals analysed would provide a child between the ages of 4 and 6 with more than 50% of their recommended daily intake of sugar.
Maria Morgan, study author and senior lecturer at Cardiff University, said that it was “impossible to know if manufacturers are deliberately tricking people,” but suggested that misleading images could contribute to excessive sugar consumption. Ms Morgan also claimed that it was likely that families from low-income backgrounds would be worst affected by such images.
The study has been published a month after NHS England’s chief encouraged food manufacturers to review and revise the sugar content of the products they sell.
August 8th, 2018
A row over water fluoridation has erupted in East Yorkshire. Dental experts have accused local councillors of “peddling myths” and providing “alternative facts” to try and persuade people that water fluoridation is expensive and ineffective.
The British Dental Association has spoken out after Hull City Council’s councillor in charge of finance, Phil Webster, described fluoridation as “expensive, undemocratic and unproven.”
In response to the comments, the British Dental Association has accused the council of spreading inaccurate information and urged councillors to explore the possibility of introducing a scheme the body believes would prevent rates of decay from rising. Russ Ladwa, health and science chair at the BDA, said that there was a “clear scientific consensus” on the efficacy of water fluoridation, and suggested that if Hull “waves a white flag” this will set a precedent others will follow and represent a victory for “doom-mongers.”
Alan Johnson, former health secretary and Hull MP, has waded in on the debate, lending his support to dental organisations. Mr Johnson said that it was necessary to stop the “conspiracy theories” and support councils like Barnsley and Doncaster that are planning to start water fluoridation in the coming months. Mr Johnson said that scare-mongering can be incredibly harmful, and used the example of the MMR vaccine debate.
Research conducted by Public Health England suggests that councils could claw back an investment of £22 for every £1 spent on water fluoridation due to improved standards of oral health. Mr Johnson said that the scheme was a “no-brainer” and encouraged people to look at scientific evidence before making a decision.
July 18th, 2018
New research suggests that parents will allow their children to consume up to five times more sugar than normal during the summer holidays.
A poll has revealed that parents in the UK adopt a much more lenient stance when it comes to diet and nutrition in the holidays. The survey, which involved around 1,000 parents of children aged between 2 and 17 years old revealed a worrying trend that sees parents enabling children to increase their daily sugar intake considerably over the holiday period.
The research, which was conducted by mydentist, revealed that fizzy drinks and ice creams were the worst offenders in the long summer break. The findings of the study are even more alarming given that two-thirds of parents admitted that they wouldn’t take the opportunity to book a dental check for their kids in the next eight weeks. Just 1 in 10 parents said that their child would eat more vegetables during the holidays.
Mydentist clinical director, Nyree Whitley, said that the summer holidays are an excellent time to book dental checks for kids, especially as most consume more sugar than normal. NHS dental care is available free of charge for children, and routine checks can help to reduce the risk of dental decay significantly.
Sugar consumption is one of the potential risk factors for decay, the most common preventable childhood illness and the reason most children are admitted for hospital treatment.
In light of the findings, dentists are urging parents to moderate sugar intake, especially between meals, and to make use of the time away from the classroom to schedule a dental check-up. Most dentists recommend checks every 6 months for children aged 12 months or older.
June 6th, 2018
Researchers from Queen Mary University of London claim to have made a major breakthrough in the development of a material, which could put a stop to painful dental decay.
Scientists believe that they have created a material, which could facilitate enamel regeneration, preventing sensitivity and reducing the risk of cavities. The outer surface of the tooth is covered by enamel, the hardest substance in the body. Although enamel is incredibly hardwearing and durable, it cannot regrow once it is worn or damaged. Approximately 50 percent of the global population suffers from dental pain linked to decay or enamel erosion.
The London researchers have developed a means of growing mineralised materials, which would make the regeneration of hard tissues, such as bone and tooth enamel, possible. The team has identified a form of protein, which is capable of triggering the formation and growth of crystals in a way that mimics the development of enamel. The findings of the study have been published in the Nature Communications journal.
Dr Sherif Elsharkawy, co-author and dentist, explained that the study is “exciting” because the versatility of the “mineralisation platform” offers myriad opportunities to regenerate tissue within the body. Fellow author, Professor Alvaro Mata, hailed the research as a “key discovery”, which works by regulating and taking advantage of the protein’s ability to trigger and control the mineralisation process. By finding a way to exploit the proteins, the team worked on a technique that enables them to “easily grow synthetic materials.”
May 30th, 2018
Dentists in New Zealand are backing a campaign to introduce health warnings for sugary drinks.
The New Zealand Dental Association has offered its support to a campaign to introduce graphic warnings for fizzy drinks. Dentists believe that the warnings could help to discourage children and adults from buying sugary drinks and improve standards of oral health.
Recently, Professor Anna Peeters from Deakin University, Australia, presented the findings of a study into the impact of graphic warnings at the European Congress on Obesity. Prof Peeters conducted a survey of almost 1,000 adults aged between 18 and 35 years old. The findings revealed a drop of 20% in purchases when drink labels were flanked by a graphic image, such as a picture of decayed teeth.
Spokesperson for the NZDA, Dr Rob Beaglehole, explained that the warnings were one of seven measures supported by the organisation in the Consensus Statement on Sugary Drinks.
Dr Beaglehole added that New Zealand is trailing behind European countries in terms of tackling rising rates of decay linked to fizzy drink consumption. Some countries are considering introducing health warnings on certain products and the UK has recently introduced a levy on sugary drinks. The NZDA has backed calls for tougher measures to be enforced to bring down sugar consumption and to improve the dental health of the nation.
May 9th, 2018
A new survey conducted by the Oral Health Foundation has revealed that public awareness of enamel erosion is worryingly low.
The survey, which was carried out as part of preparations for National Smile Month, shows that many people are unaware of the causes of erosion. Only 54 percent of people were aware of the damaging impact of drinking energy and sports drinks, and figures were even lower for other common causes of enamel loss, including snacking between meals, acid reflux and drinking sparkling water. Only a third of those questioned were able to list symptoms of enamel wear, including tooth thinning, heightened sensitivity, staining, enamel transparency and cracking.
The poll, which involved 2,000 people, was conducted in association with Unilever. The aim was to gauge the level of awareness, to point out potential risk factors and causes and to promote the use of Regenerate Professional Advanced Serum and Toothpaste. This product is designed to be part of a preventative approach to enamel erosion. Regenerate contains two key ingredients, calcium silicate and sodium phosphate. The formula has been developed based on NR-5 technology, which is related to bone repair. Studies show that using the serum improved the microhardness of the surface by 82% after 3 days.
Enamel erosion is a major cause of decay, and it can also contribute to an elevated risk of dental injuries and gum disease. Dentists are eager to encourage brushing with fluoride toothpaste and to discourage snacking and drinking sugary and acidic drinks. Regular dental checks are also highly recommended.