The idea that England is having a third world dentistry crisis might sound like a pretty sensational claim, but a number of recent news articles have reported exactly that. So whose responsibility is it to make sure we have a nation of healthy teeth? Is it up to our dentist or is it up to us?
There are no comprehensive figures on what dental diseases cost the economy. But the World Health Organisation estimates they’re the fourth most expensive conditions to treat when we rely on curing problems, rather than preventing them.
The fact that over 62,000 people are admitted to hospital in England each year because of tooth decay is bonkers and a group of 400 dentists took the trouble to write to the Telegraph to say just that: “When more than 90 per cent of all dental diseases can be prevented, it is a national disgrace that children aged under 10 in England are still more likely to be treated in hospital for rotten teeth than for any other medical reason.”
Dentaid To The Rescue
Things have got so bad that Dentaid, a charity that sets up clinics across deprived parts of Africa and Asia, recently set up the Real Junk Tooth Project in Yorkshire. Local dentists are helping out the charity for free, allowing the clinic to offer a “pay if you can” service. They are hoping to launch more Real Junk Tooth Projects across the UK in 2016. But should they need to?
Relying on dental professionals to fix problems we can almost entirely prevent is neither sustainable nor sensible. Instead, a focus on prevention of oral diseases and promotion of oral health must be at the core of national policies. And there also needs to be a shift in patient behaviour to make sure we’re taking responsibility for our own and our children’s oral health.
You Can Help Yourself
The good news is that taking care of your teeth and preventing problems before they start is really simple and cost effective if you follow these steps:
- Brush your teeth twice a day and use a fluoride mouthwash.
- Use 100% xylitol mints and gum like ours that offer all day dental protection from the damage caused by eating and drinking sugary foods.
- Visit your dentist every six months or so (they might say you can go less frequently if your teeth are in good condition).
It’s as easy as that. There’s no need for NHS dentistry in England to be at crisis point if everyone takes responsibility for their own health.