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Posts tagged “Public Health England”

Less than 50% of under 4’s saw a dentist last year, NHS Digital figures confirm

Figures from NHS Digital confirm that fewer than 50% of under 4’s in England saw a dentist in 2018. 

Data from NHS Digital, which was analysed by the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, revealed that 57.7% of children didn’t go to the dentist last year. Over 40% of children aged between 4 and 17 didn’t attend a dental appointment. The statistics underline a trend for leaving it too late to take children to the dentist, with many parents admitting that they take their child to the dentist for the first time when they start school.

Public Health England has launched a campaign to encourage parents to take children to the dentist on a regular basis from the age of 12 months old, but the latest figures show that many are leaving it much later. 

Professor Michael Escudier, dean of the FDS, described the findings as “disappointing” and highlighted the positive impact of attending regular routine check-ups. Checks only last a few minutes and they can reduce the risk of decay dramatically. In children in England, decay is the leading cause of hospital admission, and it can affect everything from general health and self-confidence to performance at school. Childhood decay can also contribute to premature tooth loss, which can increase the risk of dental issues during adolescence and adulthood. 

In light of the statistics, the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons is encouraging parents to start taking children to the dentist every 6 months from the age of one. Frequent visits improve oral health and they also help children to get accustomed to the sights and sounds of the dental surgery, which lowers the risk of anxiety.

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.

Dental charity welcomes plans to expand HPV vaccine programme to protect boys

The Oral Health Foundation has welcomed plans to expand the HPV vaccine programme to protect boys, as well as girls.

Currently, 12 and 13-year-old girls are offered the immunisation as part of a scheme to reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Now, Public Health England has confirmed that the programme will be rolled out to include teenage boys in a bid to lower the number of cancer cases linked to the virus.

HPV (human papilloma virus) is a very common virus, which usually doesn’t cause any problems. However, there are certain strains that increase the risk of some types of cancer.

The vaccination has been incredibly effective in lowering the risk of cervical cancer, and campaigners believed that boys should be vaccinated to protect them against other forms of cancer. Oral cancer, for example, is linked to HPV exposure, and the number of cases in the UK has more than doubled in the last 10-15 years.

HPV vaccination started in 2008 and Public Health England has confirmed that boys in year 8 will be offered the injection from September 2019. It is estimated that around 5% of cancer cases are linked to the HPV, and in the UK, experts believe that extending the vaccination programme could prevent up to 2,000 cases in men each year.

Types of cancer that may be associated with HPV in men include cancer of the penis and anus and head and neck cancer.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, welcomed the news and urged all parents of boys and girls who are eligible for the vaccine to take advantage of the opportunity to have the injection. The programme has already enjoyed incredible results among girls and young women, and expanding the scheme could save many more lives.

More than 90% of childhood extractions are required for decay

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.

Row over water fluoridation erupts in East Yorkshire

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.

Public Health England launches new campaign to discourage unhealthy snacking in children

shutterstock_670574656Public Health England has launched a new campaign to discourage unhealthy snacking. As the New Year gets into full swing, the body is hoping to encourage those looking to adopt healthier habits to ditch sugary snacks. Although the scheme is designed to target children, adults can benefit from reducing the amount of calories consumed through snacks too.

Research suggests that the average child gets half their daily sugar intake through snacks and drinks and campaigners are hoping to put an end to this trend. Public Health England is encouraging parents and children to stick to a maximum of two snacks per day, limit snacks to foods that contain no more than 100 calories and swap sugary drinks for sugar-free versions. According to studies, children are having at least three sugary snacks or drinks per day, with many consuming more than three times the recommended sugar intake on a daily basis.

According to Public Health England, children are consuming up to 400 biscuits, 120 cakes, 70 chocolate bars and ice creams and 100 bags of sweets per year. On top of this, children are also consuming 150 bottles of juice or cans of fizzy drinks.

Excessive sugar intake is fuelling increasing childhood obesity rates and dental health issues, and campaigners are eager to encourage healthier eating habits in a bid to reduce the number of children affected by these preventable illnesses. Dental decay is the most common cause of hospital admissions in children and in England, a third of children in year 6 are either overweight or obese.

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