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In the news week commencing 19 October 2020

National and local media coverage we've received week commencing 19 October.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

BDA highlights that decades of oral health improvements could be at risk due to restrictions introduced during the coronavirus pandemic

More than 17 news outlets in Scotland, including the BBC, Herald Scotland, The Press and Journal, highlight the British Dental Association's response to the latest data from the National Dental Inspection Programme on P1 children. These show that children from the most deprived areas experience more than four times the level of tooth decay compared to their counterparts in the least deprived areas. The report found 71% of P1 children were free from tooth decay in 2019-20, up 3% from the previous year, while in the most deprived areas 58.1% of P1 pupils were free from tooth decay compared to 86.9% in the most affluent areas. The news coverage notes that the gap between these two groups had narrowed in recent years, but they carry a warning from the BDA that decades of improvements could be at risk due to restrictions introduced during the coronavirus pandemic. The BDA said "stark and persistent inequalities" could widen, given the collapse in access to routine services, the suspension of public health programmes and the impact of sugar-rich lockdown diets. Robert Donald, chair of the BDA's Scottish Council, said: "Covid risks undoing decades of progress in improving the dental health of our children. Dentistry in Scotland is at a turning point. Routine check-ups remain off the cards for most families, our public health programmes are struggling, and high street practices face a deeply uncertain future. The oral health gap between rich and poor - which has proved so stubborn - will widen unless we see real commitment from the Scottish government."


BBC News Scotland 

The Courier 

The Press and Journal 

Evening Express 

The Herald Scotland


15 million check-ups and treatments were on hold since March, creating a six-month backlog

An item yesterday on ITV's West Country news highlighted that 'significant 'changes have been made to the way dentistry is being delivered now and explained why dental patients are being told that they may have to wait until next year before they can get a routine dental appointment. It cited the BDA as saying that 15 million check ups and treatments were on hold since March, creating a six-month backlog. The presenter pointed out that it was a difficult time for the dental industry, and discussed some of the reasons for this in an interview with North Devon practice owner, Ian Mills (FGDPC observer on BDA GDPC). Ian said that changes to dentistry, including fallow time, mean that dentists' are working at about 60% of usual capacity and this has an impact on the throughput of patients and also on practice income. (The segment had also featured an interview with a woman who said that she was unable to get an appointment for herself and her three-year old until January, adding that she would have to pay a higher fee for this than had been the case previously.) Ian explained that access to dentistry was not the same as before the pandemic, that dentists are using measures to mitigate some of the risks, and were prioritising those patients whose oral health was most at risk. The presenter flagged up to viewers some of the measures that dentists have taken to mitigate risks from spreading the coronavirus, including ventilation systems and sanitising the surgery.


Tuesday 20 October 2020

Dentist 'perplexed' by move to reopen surgeries across Scotland at height of infection

The owner of a Dumbarton dental practice has found himself "perplexed" by the Scottish Government's announcement to fully reopen dentists' surgeries across Scotland. Ghyll McCallum, of Levengrove Dental Care, has backed calls from British Dental Association Scotland (BDA) and Scottish Dental Practice Owners for a full explanation from the Scottish Government after the health bodies found out about the plans for new guidelines via the news media. He has also raised concerns regarding around how social distancing and restricted staffing will work if dentistry across Scotland returns to normal. Mr McCallum said: "The profession is bemused that the government are asking for a full return when infection rates are higher than earlier in the year when the Scottish Government was telling us not to work. There has also been no consultation with relevant dental bodies to discuss this recent announcement. Nor have we been advised how it is planned to be financed in the short or long term. "I feel perplexed by the irrationality and not very hopeful that we can deliver what Joe Fitzpatrick has announced to the public without giving consideration to the detail or consultation with the profession,' Ghyll McCallum said. "Our priority is to look after the patients in need of emergency and urgent care. If we resume full service and combine it with restricted staffing, then something has to give."


The BDA also blasted the Scottish Government after they found out about the news from their own patients instead of the government as "disrespectful",


The Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter


Monday 19 October 2020

Can I see the dentist under Tier 2 rules?

The Daily Express aims to answer the question of whether people can go to the dentist under Tier 2 rules. Some confusion has arisen about the rule on inter-household mixing indoors - in theory, the article states this would prevent people from different families sitting together in a doctor or dentist's waiting room. But authorities have quickly confirmed the rules differ when it comes to "reasonably necessary" situations. The BDA said people can still visit their dentists if living under lockdown. They said: "There has been concern raised regarding people from different households meeting in dentists' waiting rooms which conflicts with the latest COVID restrictions announced earlier in the week. We can confirm that while the new guidance does restrict gathering indoors of two or more people, it also states that there are exceptions which include gatherings that are 'reasonably necessary' such as for 'work purposes'. The advice applies across each lockdown tier, including the maximum third level of the system. Varying travel restrictions from the devolved nations will not prevent people from getting dentists appointments either. 


Brushing your teeth can be a lifesaver

Just 44% of adults brushed their teeth once or more each day during lockdown, and only one in eight hit the recommended twice daily quota, according to an article in Fabulous, the Sun magazine. Readers are urged to take responsibility for looking after their teeth, pointing out that "good oral hygiene can affect your overall health". It adds that research published in the Californian Dental Association Journal shows that neglecting your oral health can increase "your risk of deadly conditions such as heart disease and more severe Covid-19 symptoms."


Commenting on why tooth brushing is so important, Professor Damien Walmsley, the BDA's scientific advisor told Fabulous: "We all have a film of bacteria that builds up on our teeth. Everyone knows we need to brush the bacteria away [from our teeth], but people forget about the importance of gum health."  Yep, the journalist, Lizzie Dening, says, your gums are more important than you might realise. Research has uncovered links between periodontal (gum) disease and other more serious conditions, including increased risk of oesophageal and gastric cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease. Meanwhile, a 2019 study in Experimental Biology found that bacterial toxins connected with Alzheimer's disease and rheumatoid arthritis can travel throughout the body, spreading from the mouth to the brain. The University of Southampton also found a link between gum disease and greater rates of cognitive decline in the early stages of Alzheimer's.  Lizzie Dening concludes that the good news is it's never too late to turn things around. A study by the Forsyth Institute suggests treating gum disease can help prevent heart disease, while it's also been found to help reduce pain caused by arthritis. Researchers at Peninsula College Of Medicine and Dentistry found it can help to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, too.


She offers some oral health tips from Professor Walmsley:  "Brush twice a day (including before bed) for two minutes using fluoride toothpaste, and floss once, preferably before brushing, to remove plaque and food particles toothbrushes can't always reach."  There's some evidence that electric brushes are better at removing plaque, but most dentists agree the main thing is to brush regularly with whatever you prefer. We all know it's good for us – but why is it so hard to find time to floss?