The inequality of children’s oral health demonstrates the need for greater effort to engender more preventative strategies, says Denplan

The inequality of children’s oral health demonstrates the need for greater effort to engender more preventative strategies, says Denplan


The current state of children’s oral health in the UK has once again been making the headlines this week.  Whilst Denplan welcomes the news from Public Health England that the number of five year olds with tooth decay has dropped to its lowest level in almost a decade, there is still much greater effort needed to install better prevention strategies in order to eradicate this entirely preventable dental disease in the child population.

Commenting on the PHE survey results, Henry Clover, Chief Dental Officer at Denplan said: “Although the figures show that the number of five year olds with tooth decay has dropped from 31% in 2008 down to less than 25%, this still represents a quarter of the country’s five years olds suffering from an entirely preventable disease. Focusing on comparing data to previous years is not that helpful and the government, working with the profession, must not shy away from seeking to tackle this problem head on. 

“The current NHS contract makes it more difficult for dentists to care for children with the worst dental health, a key factor in the need to reform the system introduced in 2006. Any new contract, must put prevention strategies at the forefront and recognise that good dental health in childhood is vital, not only for lifelong oral wellbeing, but for good overall health.

“Denplan believes that a dental health assessment should happen by the age of one to prevent early onset of disease. Denplan’s research conducted with YouGov revealed that only one in five parents of children aged 18 or under (19%) said they first took their child to the dentist before 12 months of age1.”

The PHE statistics also revealed that in some areas, such as the North West, a third of five year olds (33.4%) are suffering from tooth decay, compared to only a fifth (20.1%) in the South East.

“This inequality in children’s oral health demonstrates there is still a huge regional variation, with areas of higher levels of deprivation tending to have higher levels of tooth decay.  Investment must continue to be targeted to areas where access to dental services is low to improve provision and inequalities. The development of more multi-skilled dental teams could also help provide more effective and economical outcomes in helping treat children with more extensive oral health needs. Therapists, hygienists and dental nurses could also play a crucial role in this.”

Last but not least, Denplan believes there is still a lot of work to be done to engender more preventative behaviours amongst the public as a further report this week2 revealed that four in ten people fail to brush their teeth at least once a day.

Henry Clover concluded: “Dentists and their practice teams can also play their part by taking responsibility for improving oral health in their own communities by engaging with local authorities, schools, early years and other health services and helping to raise awareness of the links between oral health and overall health. The training of other health and care professionals such as midwives, school nurses, social workers and care home workers will also help ensure oral health messages are more widely disseminated, thereby helping to engender more preventive behaviours amongst the public.”



Denplan/YouGov Survey. Total sample size was 5,152 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th-20th January 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+). (Accessed on the 11th May 2016)




About Denplan

Denplan Limited is the UK’s leading dental payment plan specialist owned by Simplyhealth; with more than 6,500 member dentists nationwide caring for approximately 1.7 million customers. Established in 1986 by two dentists who pioneered the concept of dental payment plans, Denplan has been at the heart of dental care for nearly 30 years. Today, Denplan has a wide range of dental plans for adults and children, enabling patients to spread the cost of their private dental care through a fixed monthly fee. Denplan supports regular attendance and preventive care, reducing the need for clinical intervention and helping patients to maintain healthy teeth and gums for life. Patient enquiries telephone: 0800 401 402   Dentist enquiries telephone: 0800 328 3223

·         Denplan Care: all routine and restorative care + worldwide dental injury and dental emergency cover

·         Denplan Essentials: routine care only + worldwide dental injury and dental emergency cover

·         Plans for Children: routine and other agreed care + worldwide dental injury and dental emergency cover

·         Membership Plan: registered with the dentist + worldwide dental injury and dental emergency cover

·         Denplan Emergency: worldwide dental injury and dental emergency cover only

·         Corporate Dental Plans: company funded, voluntary and flexible benefit schemes

Denplan also provides a range of professional services for its member dentists and their practice teams, including the Denplan Quality Programme, Denplan Excel Certification Programme and Denplan Training.  Plus regulatory advice, business and marketing consultancy services and networking opportunities.

For more information about Denplan:

Rebecca Hutton

Denplan Press Office

Tel: 01962 829 179

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Follow us @denplandentists on Twitter and at

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Why stress can lead to tooth loss…

Why stress can lead to tooth loss…

Almost half of British adults say they feel stressed every day – that’s according to the Mental Health Foundation. It is generally well known that stress can contribute to health problems such as depression and heart disease. What is less well known – but imperative to address for emotional and physical well-being – is that it can also damage your teeth.

This is what happens – one of the more common signs of stress is tooth grinding but there’s a good chance you don’t even know you’re doing it, as it often happens in your sleep. However, its effects cannot be underestimated, often resulting in physical symptoms such as tooth sensitivity, gum problems, difficulty chewing, headaches and neck ache, as well as the possibility of ultimately losing teeth, which can have a devastating emotional effect.

If a dentist examined your mouth, they might find teeth that are:

• Sharp or chipped

• Broken

• Shortened

• Loose

• Wearing flat and looking shiny and pitted.


The good news is that making a few simple lifestyle changes can be a big help, such as:

• Doing something relaxing before bed, such as yoga, reading or having a bath

• Learning to brush effectively yet gently with a relatively soft toothbrush and a toothpaste that is low in abrasivity (ask your dentist for advice on this if you’re not sure).

In addition, if you’re suffering from sensitivity (which should be diagnosed by a dentist to ensure there is no underlying condition that needs treatment), using a fluoridated mouthrinse every day at a different time to toothbrushing is an effective first line of defence. A desensitising toothpaste used when brushing or applied directly onto a sensitive tooth can also be helpful to calm any sensitivity.

Commenting on this growing problem, Professor Andrew Eder, an expert in tooth wear and Clinical Director of the London Tooth Wear Centre®, said: If you’re worried that your teeth may be wearing, tell your dentist. They are, after all, there to help and will be able to make a diagnosis, provide guidance or refer you, if appropriate.

‘Possible treatment options include the provision of a suitable mouthguard to be worn at night to relieve pressure on the teeth and jaw, prescribing muscle relaxants or recommending care from a physiotherapist or osteopath with specialist knowledge of the muscles involved.

‘If there was one piece of advice above all others I’d offer, it would be this – don’t delay in seeking help. If damage resulting from tooth wear is diagnosed and addressed in its early stages, you can avoid extensive and expensive dental treatment that might otherwise be necessary to correct the situation. The bottom line is that you needn’t suffer alone or long-term.’

If you have any concerns about your oral health or would simply like some preventive advice, please contact your dentist. If you prefer, the team at the London Tooth Wear Centre® is happy to help. For further information, please visit, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 020 7486 7180.


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Focus On Prevention | Wisdom Toothbrushes

Focus On Prevention

A focus on prevention means you’ll be rewarded with satisfied patients who require less invasive treatment. It encourages trust and loyalty too, and will mean you can establish a reputation for providing an all-round, comprehensive service, rather than for just ‘fixing’ teeth.

A long-term preventative strategy starts with taking time to get to know your patients and their background and listening to what they are saying. Do you know which of your patients are at greater risk of coronary heart disease, stroke or diabetes due to factors such as family history or lifestyle? Are they aware that periodontal disease can increase the risk of these conditions (as supported by a huge body of research)? Or that their implant treatment could be compromised by smoking due to the increased risk of peri-implantitis[i]?

Open channels of communication and an approachable attitude are fundamental for every member of the dental team. From the minute a patient steps inside your surgery the atmosphere should be friendly and supportive.

One of the major challenges will be patient compliance so it’s important to recommend high quality adjunctive products in order that effective oral hygiene routines can be maintained at home.

Leading products such as the proven Wisdom Clean Between Interdental Brushes have soft, rubber filaments, which make them easy and comfortable to use for all patients including those with implants, fillings or crowns, or orthodontic appliances. They are particularly beneficial for patients who have found wire interdental brushes difficult or painful to use in the past, as the design allows for a gentle yet thorough clean. With a tapered stem they are available in three sizes to allow access to varying sizes of gaps between the teeth. Wisdom Clean Between Interdental Brushes are clinically proven to remove plaque from interdental spaces, thereby reducing the risk of gingival disease[ii],[iii] for enhanced oral health. In a recent poll, they were also recommended by 100% of dental professionals[iv].

From September Wisdom will be offering, via dental wholesalers, a Dentist Surgery Pack of Wisdom Clean Between Interdental Brushes for you to use on patients. These will consist of a dispenser box with 100 cello-wrapped sample packs of each colour of brush, with a solution suitable for every patient you see.

As a practitioner your job is to help your patients achieve and maintain a high standard of oral health all-year round. Invest time in every person who comes into your surgery and talk to them about how important their contribution is in maintaining healthy teeth and gingiva. It’s about working together, adapting a routine as circumstances demand and supporting each other by making simple changes. Small changes to patients’ home-care oral routine such as the addition of the Wisdom Clean Between Interdental Brushes, can make a huge difference to their dental health and general well being for years to come.

For further information please visit or call 01440 714800


[i] Strietzel FP, Reichart PA, Kale A, et al. Smoking interferes with the prognosis of dental implant treatment: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Periodontol. 2007;34(6):523-544.

[ii] Yost et el, Interproximal gingivitis and plaque reduction by four interdental products. J Clin Dent. 2006;17(3):79-83.

[iii] Prof. Dr. Petra Ratka-Krüger et al, Clinical trial of a metal-free interdental brush. University Medical Centre Freiburg, Germany. Pub Nov 2010.


[iv]BDTA 2013/2014, poll carried out by Wisdom during events.


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4135 Hits

Momentum added to the Big Lie campaign?

Momentum added to the Big Lie campaign?
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.
Tony Jacobs
References and further reading:
  1. Royal College of Surgeons report January 2015
  2. Daily Telegraph letter 2014
  3. Daily Telegraph letter 2015
  4. Mintel market insight reports

Image acknowledgement

Running to Paradise Garden
by Nicolas Alejandro  
Shown under Creative Commons licence


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The Tooth Trip

The Tooth Trip

I was surprised to see the advice we give our patients has not changed much in over 40 years! I am reading a book called “The Tooth Trip” that was written by dentist Thomas McGuire in 1972; he describes the same prevention based dentistry we practice today. This book was written for the public to understand oral diseases and their role in preventing it.

Some of the book is way off the mark with recipes for making homemade toothpaste with Sage, Myrrh and powdered roots. Making toothbrushes from twigs and sticks does not sound like the best use of an hour of your time. What resonated so strongly with me was the descriptions of self-examination of your mouth and emphasis on prevention and working together with your dentist. A whole chapter was on dental emergencies and what constitutes a real emergency- severe or recurrent bleeding or severe pain not relived by painkillers. Just getting your patients to read this chapter alone would save thousands of wasted dental appointments. There was sensible honest advice on how and why teeth can hurt and how you can prevent it and work together with your dental team to stop it recurring.

In our modern age, if we educate our patients in the causes of dental disease and how it is entirely preventable, they too could have healthy mouths and lower dental bills. Despite the fact that most of this information is freely available on the internet or in the leaflets that some dental practices give out, not much has changed. Why is that?

I feel that until the information is specifically tailored to our patents and they can see the benefit from following that specific advice, they will switch off. If you promote the fact that you fix teeth, they will just come and expect you to fix them. This is where modern dental teams come in. We need to genuinely listen to our patients, do not interrupt them, let them get their whole story out. Examine their mouth, show them the evidence of disease in a clear and non-judgemental way. Explain their options and how as a team, you can return their mouth to health. Make them understand that without them, all your treatment will fail. Spending extra time now will save hours of treatment in the future and help educate a generation that loves going to the dentist. All good dentists want their work to be appreciated and to last a life-time.

Four Dental sins from the 1970’s that Dentists still do to this day:

1. Leaflet avoidance. Handing your patients reading matter to explain your treatment and asking them to go home to go through it. Nothing beats a face to face discussion where you allow them time to discuss their personal fears and questions. Leaflets should be only a back-up once the conversation has taken place.

2. Technical jargon. Using dental terminology or complex words to explain your diagnosis and treatment. All professions have jargon. The skilled dentists explain it in a language that that specific patient will understand.

3. Carrying out treatment whilst discussing the patient’s options. No-one can fully concentrate when lying on their back with theirs mouth open or having treatment carried out. Stop, sit the patient up and have a face to face conversation.

4. Bulldozing. Talking it through you your patient until they are worn down and just say yes. Nothing is life or death that you need to decide there and then. Place a temporary filling and then explain the options; pros, cons and cost. Then let them go away and think about it.


How are you going to make the most of your patients next tooth trip?


Photo by Jenn Durfey, licence info



James Goolnik is a practising Dentist and his book “Brush” donates 100% of the profits to Dentaid. He recently led a team of 8 dental professionals to Malawi to install two dental chairs, equipment and deliver skills transfer workshops from these proceeds. He is a trustee of the charity “Heart your Smile”.


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