After a couple of years, is there now some momentum behind the Big Lie campaign devised, proposed and propagated by Dr Tony Kilcoyne BDS, often using the columns of GDPUK, as well as using ITV Daybreak, Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2, and the letters column of the Daily Telegraph.
The basis of the campaign is wide ranging and Dr Kilcoyne often talks about protected time, so that dental professionals can have adequate time with patients that is not constrained by overbearing pressures of targets which must be met, targets set by unaccountable NHS managers. In addition, his campaign always mentions the un-noticed aspect that the most likely reason for hospital admission in England for children between ages of 5 and 9 is the disease of dental decay, and those children need extractions of multiple teeth under general anaesthetic, which, for safety reasons, must only be provided in a hospital environment.
Medical and dental professionals must stop politicians pontificating on the NHS being free at the point of demand, and repeat again and again, in reality, the politicians run a finite, cash limited service with growing and open-ended demand.
Other aspects of the campaign must be patient education, a tax on sugar drinks and confectionery to fund better dental care as well as discouraging use, as with cigarettes. In addition, the dental professional of this country must takes steps using public relations techniques to educate and win over the public so they know that adding fluoride in tiny quantities to public water supplies will benefit their children and future generations.
I find it amazing that despite the public image of dentists, we are the only group in favour of this latter measure, yet this would make less work for us in our high investment, high expense practices. Because we are professionals, and we see the damage caused, and our professionalism makes us draw attention to the widely ignored preventive message.
Last week [13th January 2015] the august body that is the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons released their thoughts on what is going wrong for the teeth of young children in England, in the form of a press release. This body is not one of the wildest of institutions, it is hundreds of years old, with roots going back to 1540. Its' leaders rise through an establishment process of professorial rank in a high achieving and multi-qualified professions. In effect, by publishing the concerns of the Royal College in this rare move, they have joined the clamour with a loud hailer from the tallest building - children are suffering with a preventable disease and un-necessary hospitalisation, but the Government is looking the other way.
In our highly developed United Kingdom, the sales of sugar, sweets and confectionery continue to rise. In fact between 2008 and 2013, when consumer spend has been squeezed in the UK, cumulative rise was only 2%, [source Mintel] despite a fall in that time in disposable real family income. Every year more millions are spent on these items, and the manufacturers, the supermarkets, the retailers churn it out. For students of economics, these confections are great value added products for the manufacturers and the rest. But the culture of ignorance, and the sad culture of avoiding and deriding the dentist, together with the inexorable rise in sales mean tooth decay is on the up, and hospital admissions increase.
Cynically we can joke and say we need a "sugar czar" but maybe the way forward for this campaign is for a high profile leader to enact established, proven concepts, increase regions with artificial fluoridation of water, increase education regarding the effects of sugar, and reduce sales of confectionery aimed at small children. In addition a change in attitude, promoting the concept that families who allow their children's teeth to rot are neglectful, this is a totally preventable disease and this knowledge is not new.
Let us hope that more dental bodies, in fact all dental bodies, come together to raise the profile of this health failure, and improve the national oral health of our children.
The children of dentists do not suffer this disease. Full stop.
References and further reading:
- Royal College of Surgeons report January 2015
- Daily Telegraph letter 2014
- Daily Telegraph letter 2015
- Mintel market insight reports
Running to Paradise Garden
by Nicolas Alejandro
https://www.facebook.com/nicolas.alejandro.ph Shown under Creative Commons licence