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Dentists urge parents to avoid Coca Cola Christmas truck parades

For many of us, the arrival of Coca Cola’s famous TV advert heralds the beginning of the festive season, but as Christmas approaches, dental experts are encouraging parents to steer clear of the brand’s annual Christmas truck tour. 

Coca Cola is once again taking its infamous red truck on a whistle-stop tour of the UK, visiting 19 towns and cities over the course of the next few weeks. The event is now in its ninth year and has a reputation for drawing large crowds. Despite the success of the parade, not everyone is pleased to see the distinctive lorry on the roads. Paediatric dentists have branded the tour “harmful” and accused Coca Cola of trying to drive profits in some of the country’s most deprived areas. 

Claire Stevens, NHS paediatric dentistry consultant and member of the British Society for Paediatric Dentists, said that the only motive for the tour is to promote the brand and encourage adults and children to consume “harmful” drinks. The entire range, including products that are sugar-free like Coke Zero, is problematic in terms of dental health, as even the sugar-free drinks are acidic. Acids in the mouth contribute to erosion of the enamel, increasing the risk of decay and premature tooth loss. The BSPD is supporting Public Health England’s stance that fizzy drinks should not be included in children’s diets. 

A spokesperson for Coca Cola described the truck tour as a “one-off moment of fun in the run-up to Christmas” and stated that around 90% of the samples handed out over the coming weeks will be small cans of diet or sugar-free cola. The brand will also be ensuring that under 12’s are only given drinks if accompanied by parents in line with its “responsible marketing policy.”

New study links watching TV to sugar consumption and decay in children

A new study suggests that children who watch TV on a regular basis are more likely to consume sugary foods and develop tooth decay. 

Researchers discovered that kids who watch over 90 minutes of television per day are a third more likely to eat sugary foods and 39% more likely to suffer from dental decay than children who don’t watch TV frequently. 

More than half of children who watch at least 90 minutes of TV per day have signs of dental decay and rates of decay are twice as high among children who snack on sugary treats while in front of the box. 

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, said that the study clearly underlines the negative relationship between watching TV and grazing on unhealthy foods and dental problems in children. Studies show that the vast majority of UK children consume too much sugar, and this is undoubtedly contributing to poor standards of oral health. Decay is the leading cause of child hospital admissions across the UK, despite the fact that almost all cases of decay could be prevented. In England alone, more than 59,000 tooth extractions were performed on children in 2018. 

In light of the findings, Dr Carter is urging parents to moderate both the time children spend in front of the TV and the foods they consume while watching their favourite programmes. 

As well as highlighting the link between TV viewing time and oral health problems, the study also raised concerns about the impact of advertising. Over 70% of children asked their parents to buy foods they see advertised on television and 69% admit to appeasing their children. Almost 80% of adults also said that they bought products featured on adverts, and their children are subsequently much more likely to develop decay.

Dr Carter is one of many high-profile health professionals calling for pre-watershed junk food advertising to be banned.

Dentists prepare for Mouth Cancer Action Month

Dental professionals up and down the country are gearing up for one of the most important campaigns of the year, Mouth Cancer Action Month. This year’s campaign, which is run by the Oral Health Foundation in conjunction with the Mouth Cancer Foundation, will launch on 1st November.

As November approaches, practices and health experts are encouraging patients to be mouth aware. Mouth cancer doesn’t have the media profile of other types of cancer, yet it kills more people in the UK than cervical and testicular cancer combined. In the last 10 years, the number of cases diagnosed in Britain has risen by almost 50%.

One of the most pressing problems for health professionals is a lack of awareness about oral cancer. Many people are aware of the symptoms of cervical, breast and bowel cancer, for example, but surveys suggest that a worrying proportion of people don’t even know that oral cancer exists. Around 75% of people do not know what kinds of symptoms to look out for, and this means that the vast majority of cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage. While survival rates have improved significantly for other types of cancer in recent years, progress for oral cancer has stalled and this is largely due to the fact that patients are diagnosed late. 

As Mouth Cancer Action Month looms, dentists and doctors are encouraging patients to look out for signs such as abnormal lumps and swelling in the mouth and throat, white and red patches, unexplained oral pain or bleeding and ulcers that take a long time to heal. Dental professionals are also keen to promote regular routine check-ups, which include oral cancer checks as standard, and to urge patients to get involved in initiatives run as part of this year’s campaign. Practices will be offering free screening checks and many are also staging events and hosting activities to raise funds for mouth cancer charities and get patients talking about this potentially deadly disease.

For more information about Mouth Cancer Action Month, visit www.mouthcancer.org.

UK dentists urge patients to chuck away charcoal toothpastes

You only have to scroll through social media or read the health sections of magazines to stumble across articles or promotional adverts that feature charcoal toothpaste.

In the last few years, charcoal-based dental products have become incredibly popular, especially among young people who are looking to whiten their smiles. Although adverts make claims that using charcoal toothpaste will revolutionise the appearance of your smile, dentists are eager to set the record straight.

Scientists analysing the impact of charcoal toothpastes have recently published their findings in the British Dental Journal, and they support warnings and advisory notices issued by dentists and dental organisations over the course of the last couple of years. Researchers from the University of Manchester Dental School found that using charcoal whitening toothpaste is likely to have no real impact on the colour of the enamel, and perhaps, most importantly, they discovered that choosing these products could actually have an adverse effect on oral health.

During the trial period, researchers examined 50 different types of charcoal toothpaste. They concluded that far from offering health benefits outlined in adverts and marketing campaigns, they actually increased the risk of enamel wear and erosion and could elevate the risk of sensitivity and decay.

Dr Joseph Greenwall-Cohen, co-author of the study, explained that claims made by the manufacturers of these products were unfounded and warned people against products that contain charcoal.

One of the major draws for consumers is the claim related to whitening the teeth. Bright white smiles are in demand, and many young people who use sites like Instagram, which are popular bases for social media marketing campaigns, are swayed by the price and by promotional images. These photographs, which often feature celebrities like reality TV stars, are likely to be digitally enhanced or filtered to make the teeth look whiter, and there is also a chance that the celebrities chosen by companies have already had cosmetic dental work done.

To achieve a white smile safely, dentists recommend professional whitening treatments, which are administered by trained, qualified professionals who are registered with the General Dental Council.

Why has dental tourism become more popular?

The number of dental patients leaving the UK to have treatment abroad is rising year on year, but why has dental tourism become so popular, and is it safe to have treatment overseas?

CEO of Kreativ Dental, Attila Knott, said that travelling abroad is an appealing option for many because it offers significant cost savings. Kreativ Dental, which is based in Hungary, is one of a host of overseas clinics benefiting from this growing trend. Prices are substantially lower in parts of Eastern Europe than they are in the UK, and this means that patients can afford cosmetic treatments or services like dental implants, which they simply wouldn’t be able to pay for at home. As dental tourism booms in countries like Hungary and further afield in India and Thailand, competition becomes more intense and fees fall, making travelling for treatment an even more appealing option.

For some patients, the idea of taking a break is also attractive. Many people return having had dental work and enjoyed a holiday and still find that they’ve saved hundreds, even thousands of pounds.

While there are many advantages of going abroad for dental treatment, there are also drawbacks. Standards of training may not be as impressive, regulations and good practice guidelines may not be as stringent, and the quality of materials used may not be as high. To combat the risks, it’s crucial to undertake extensive research before choosing a clinic, and to ensure that dental professionals have the relevant expertise and qualifications. It’s worth noting that it will probably cost a lot more to see a UK dentist to correct botched dental work than it would have been to have treatment at home in the first place.

Kent Dentist Issues Warning Over the Damaging Effects of Energy Drinks

A dentist from Kent has issued a stark warning over the damaging effects of consuming energy drinks after a 21-year old man who had become addicted to Monster drinks shared his story in the national press.

Vinnie Pyner, from Margate, decided to tell his tale to warn others about the dangers of drinking energy drinks. Vinnie started buying cans of Monster when he was at college. At first, he had a can from time to time to keep him awake and give him energy to study, but before long, he was consuming 6 cans per day. Vinnie started to notice that his teeth had become discoloured and weak, and he began hiding away his smile and becoming increasingly withdrawn. When he bit into an apple, his front four teeth crumbled, and he was so distressed that he didn’t even want to tell his mum.

A trip to the dentist confirmed extensive damage, which will require intensive restorative treatment, including new dentures and multiple fillings. Vinnie said that he had become addicted to Monster without really even realising the damage it was doing to his teeth, and he wanted to warn others before they found themselves in a similar situation. Vinnie was so self-conscious that he dropped out of college, and became a recluse, not wanting to see friends or socialise.

In light of the story, Gillingham dentist Dr Alfred Koloszvari, spoke to journalists about the dangers of excessive consumption of sugary drinks like fizzy pop and energy drinks. Even
drinking one can per day can multiply the chances of developing decay by up to 10 times. The sugar content is a problem, but fizzy drinks are also acidic. This means that when you drink an energy drink, your enamel comes under attack. Once the enamel is worn or thin, the tooth is vulnerable, and holes, also known as cavities, are likely to form.

The advice from dentists is to avoid fizzy drinks and to have them as an occasional treat, rather than a staple item in your diet. Drinking through a straw can reduce exposure and lower the risk of acid erosion, and dentists also recommend drinking water afterwards and sticking to meal times. Drinking sugary drinks and snacking on sweet foods between meals can increase the risk of enamel damage further.

The Importance of Retention: Why You Should Protect Your Investment

When you have braces, your dentist will recommend that you wear retainers after treatment is complete. Your teeth will hopefully look perfect, and it’s natural to want to enjoy that amazing new smile for as long as possible. This is why retainers are so important.
What is a retainer?
A retainer is an orthodontic appliance, which is used to maintain the new position of the teeth after treatment. Braces use forces to move the teeth, but unfortunately, they don’t stop moving when your braces are taken off. Retainers help to ensure that the teeth stay in the desired position, so that you can enjoy your incredible new smile for many years to come.
There are various different types of retainer available, including fixed and removable devices. Fixed retainers tend to sit behind the teeth, and they are usually bonded to the back of the front teeth. Removable aligners usually comprise a palate, which can be lifted in and out very quickly and easily.
Which retainer is best for me?
Both fixed and removable retainers have pros and cons. Removable retainers obviously give you more control and flexibility, and you may find it more comfortable and convenient to eat and clean your teeth without your retainer in place. Fixed retainers are more limiting, but they are proven to succeed, and once you’ve got used to your retainer, you won’t notice that it’s there. Different patients have different preferences and requirements, and we can work with you to decide which type of retainer is best for you.
The benefits of retainers
Wearing a retainer is strongly recommended following orthodontic treatment. Retainers help to keep the smile looking perfect, they prevent relapse, and they protect your investment by reducing the chances of needing repeat treatment.

London’s Mayor announces junk food advertising ban on the tube

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.”

Finland falling behind with dental hygiene, studies suggest

Finland is a nation most people associate with good health and an effective healthcare system, but studies suggest that the Scandinavian country is lagging behind when it comes to dental hygiene.

According to a World Health Organisation report entitled ‘Growing up unequal: Health behaviour in school-aged children,’ just over half of Finnish men and 80% of women aged over 30 brush their teeth twice a day. The statistics are even worse for younger generations, with 55% of 15-year-old boys and 26% of girls skipping at least one cleaning session per day.

The study shows that Finland rates poorly when compared to other European countries. In Switzerland, 79% of boys and 91% of girls brush twice a day. The numbers are also much higher in the UK, Sweden, Germany and Norway.

Liisa Suominen, professor of oral health at the University of Eastern Finland, said that the results are surprising, especially as Pisa tests show that Finnish youngsters are more intelligent than the average child in Europe. Research suggests that bad habits in childhood and adolescence are likely to continue into adulthood, especially among males.

A study cited by Yle revealed the potential implications of poor oral hygiene, with rates of periodontitis, advanced gum disease, significantly higher in Finland than in Sweden and Norway. Sixty percent of Finnish adults have signs of advanced gum disease compared to 50% in Norway and 40% in Sweden.

Trading Standards issues warning over illegal tooth warning

Trading Standards has issued a warning over the provision of illegal tooth whitening treatment.

The regulator has warned that visiting non-dentists for treatment can result in significant injuries, as research suggests that treatments are being offered for as little as £60.

Under EU legislation, tooth whitening is a dental treatment, and as such, it can only be provided by trained, qualified dental professionals who are registered with the General Dental Council. The GDC has clamped down on illegal whitening in recent years, and a number of people have already been prosecuted. Whitening treatments are widely available in beauty salons and shopping centres, and there have also been numerous cases linked to individuals who have set up whitening businesses without any formal dental qualifications.

Prof Damien Walmsley, scientific advisor to the British Dental Association, said that businesses are targeting people who want to look better and jumping on trends that have become incredibly popular in the wake of media attention generated by programmes like Love Island, Geordie Shore and The Only Way is Essex. The reality is that the people are buying into clever marketing campaigns and investing in treatments that are not only unlikely to work, but also potentially hazardous.

Tooth whitening has become incredibly popular recently, and illegal treatments are appealing to many because they are usually cheaper than services offered by dental clinics. The problem is that members of the public may be unaware that the practice is both illegal and potentially dangerous.

Dentists have advised anyone who wants whiter, brighter teeth to see their dentist, and the GDC has asked members of the public to be vigilant and to report suspicious behaviour. Trading Standards has also urged those interested in having whitening treatment to consult a dentist.

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