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Posts tagged “Matt Hancock”

Could supervised brushing at school help to stem the tide of decay?

Public Health England figures suggest that dentists are removing around 1,000 teeth per month from children under the age of 6, despite the fact that almost all cases of decay are preventable. With dental issues costing the NHS millions of pounds, and children missing 60,000 school days every year as a result of decay, it has been suggested that supervised brushing in schools could help to stem the rising tide of decay. 

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, is launching a consultation on a number of measures designed to reduce rates of decay, including supervised brushing schemes in schools. Health experts are worried that a large proportion of children aren’t brushing their teeth on a daily basis, and introducing brushing programmes could help to ensure that young children brush at least once a day. 

Poor oral hygiene is a significant factor in high rates of decay, but public dental health experts are also eager to improve eating habits, reduce sugar consumption and encourage parents to take children to the dentist every 6 months. 

The news of brushing schemes has been welcomed by dentists, including the chair of the British Dental Association’s principal executive committee, Mick Armstrong, but it has been criticised by teaching unions. Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, questioned whether it was the duty of teachers to ensure that their pupils brushed their teeth. 

Senior lecturer in dental public health at the University of Birmingham, Dr John Morris, said that the impact of poor dental health in childhood shouldn’t be underestimated. Dental troubles contribute to pain and a higher risk of infection, but they can also affect self-confidence and socialisation. 

Tooth extraction is currently the most common reason children are admitted to hospital in the UK.

Sheffield Professor calls for water fluoridation to be a focal point of new government prevention plan

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.

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