Have your say about Somerset’s oral health

Somerset County Council is asking for people’s views on how oral health, particularly for children and young people, can be improved throughout the County.

A quarter of all five year olds and a third of 12 year olds have dental decay in Somerset. Most oral health diseases are entirely preventable.

The consultation, located at http://www.somersetconsults.org.uk/consult.ti , asks for views on whether its draft strategy ‘Oral Health Improvement Strategy 2015-2018’ provides a clear vision for oral health improvement in Somerset, whether its recommendations are achievable and asks for any additional comments. It is running from now until 2 May 2015.

The strategy focuses on preventative activity across Somerset and suggests the following:

  • Reducing intake of sugary foods, drinks, alcohol and tobacco
  • Increasing the availability of fluoride
  • Improving oral hygiene
  • Addressing inequalities in oral health
  • Increasing access to dental services

Poor oral health, including dental decay, can affect children’s and adults’ ability to eat, speak and concentrate on work, learning or socialising.  It is also one of the most common reasons for admissions to hospital for children.  Many health conditions and oral diseases share some common risk factors such as smoking, diet and alcohol misuse.

Councillor Christine Lawrence, Chair of the Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board at Somerset County Council said:  “Oral health is a key concern in terms of the public’s health because decay and disease are almost completely preventable.

“Childhood is the key time to develop lifelong skills and behaviours relating to good oral hygiene and health.  The proposals aim to protect our children’s health and help them build good habits for the future.  We look forward to hearing your views to help us shape the way forward.”

How to improve your oral health

  • Visit a dentist regularly, don’t wait until you have a problem
  • Take children to a dentist from an early age this will help them to not be scared of going when they are older
  • Start cleaning infants teeth as soon as the first tooth appears
  • Avoid using a bottle after one year of age, don’t put sugary drinks in a bottle
  • Brush your teeth just before you go to bed and before you have anything to eat or drink at breakfast
  • Eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, remember your five a day
  • Clean all the surfaces of your teeth, this should take at least two minutes a day.  Flossing or using interdental brushes will help to prevent gum disease.
  • If your teeth are sensitive to cold water you may want to try cleaning your teeth with warm water.
  • Spit, don’t rinse when you clean your teeth, this washes away the fluoride from the toothpaste.