Look after your smile

Tooth extractions are the leading cause of admissions to hospital for children aged 5-9 years in Somerset and a quarter of our five year olds and a third of twelve year olds have dental decay.  This is despite it being an almost entirely preventable disease.*

To help improve the quality of our oral health Somerset County Council and Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust are supporting National Smile Month (18th May to 18th June) the UK’s biggest oral health campaign led by the British Dental Foundation.

The campaign encourages all dental and health professionals, schools, pharmacies, community groups, colleges and workplaces to join in and communicate positive oral health messages to improve the quality of smiles across the UK.

Poor oral hygiene, an unhealthy diet, harmful alcohol use and smoking greatly increase the risk of oral diseases including gum disease, tooth decay and oral cancers.

Trudi Grant, Somerset’s Director of Public Health at Somerset County Council said: “Looking after our teeth and mouths is as important as doing regular exercise. By avoiding the risk factors for poor oral health it is also possible to impact on a multitude of health conditions including diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease.”

Top tips for looking after your smile

• Visit a dentist regularly, don’t wait until you have a problem
• Clean in-between your teeth with interdental brushes, this help protect against gum disease.
• Eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals and remember your five a day
• Avoid lots of little snack attacks on your teeth. Try to have three meals and no more than two snacks.
• Brush your teeth twice a day (but not immeadiately after you’ve eaten)
• Clean all the surfaces of your teeth, this should take at least two minutes
• Chew sugar-free gum after a meal. This helps increase saliva and protect against decay
• Limit your intake of fruit juices and sugary drinks. Water and milk are much kinder for your teeth
• Avoid using sweets as rewards for children. Try stickers or trips to the park instead
• 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.

Cllr Christine Lawrence, Chair of the Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board, Somerset County Council said:  “The repercussions of poor oral health don’t just stop at the mouth.  The good news is that dental diseases are entirely preventable.  I would therefore encourage everyone to apply these top tips for good health.’

Somerset County Council will shortly be publishing their plan to improve the oral health of those living in Somerset, following a consultation, to be published at http://www.somerset.gov.uk/health-and-wellbeing/

Further information on Smile Month and advice for good oral hygiene  http://www.nationalsmilemonth.org/about-smile-month/

Notes to Editors:

1.HSCIC found that admissions due to dental caries were the leading cause of admissions in 2013/14 for children aged 5-9 years in England (http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB11758/prov-mont-hes-admi-outp-ae-apr-jun-13-14-toi-rep.pdf)

2. Local analysis of Secondary Care Usage data by SCC Public Health Team shows that this is also the case for children registered with Somerset GP’s –  6% of hospital admissions in 2014/15 for children registered with Somerset GPs aged 5 to 9 were due to a Primary diagnosis of dental caries.

[The Secondary Uses Service (SUS) is the single, comprehensive repository for healthcare data in England which enables a range of reporting and analyses to support the NHS in the delivery of healthcare services. http://www.hscic.gov.uk/sus%5D

Code Primary Diagnosis Number of Admissions Percentage of Admissions
K02 Dental caries (tooth decay) 149                             6%
C91 Lymphoid leukaemia 122                                       5%
H65 Nonsuppurative ottis media (middle ear) 102   4%
R10 Abdominal and pelvic pain 93                               4%
S52 Fracture of forearm 90                                            4%

3. Data on dental decay in 5 year olds and 12 year olds in Somerset is available from Public Health England Dental Epidemiological Surveys (available from http://www.nwph.net/dentalhealth/)

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Notes to editors

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