BDA reveals five-point plan for better oral healthcare

08 April, 2016 / infocus

The next Scottish Government needs to place a higher priority on fighting Scotland’s “oral disease epidemic” according to the BDA in Scotland.
The association has revealed details of its oral health manifesto ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections next month and has called on all parties to work on raising awareness of oral cancer through better public dental education on the signs and symptoms.
The BDA’s five-point plan for improving oral health also calls for an extension to Childsmile, creating a more transparent NHS payment system, extending provision to care home patients and putting cost effective oral health measures around sugar and targeted fluoridation.
The chair of the BDA’s Scottish Council, Adrian Hart, said: “We are facing an oral disease epidemic, and the next government has to decide whether it’s willing to step up and make a stand.
“Scotland has been topping the league tables on oral cancer. If spotted early survival rates can reach 90 per cent, but delay is costing lives. The next government has to ensure the shortage of oral surgeons is addressed, and that the public are fully aware of the risks. We need a plan on education, prevention and diagnosis.
“Recent governments have been pioneers in prevention. Childsmile has brought down decay, but it’s not right that a child growing up in a poorer part of Scotland is still over 20 per cent more likely to end up with visible decay than one born in an affluent area. The initiative is currently saving baby teeth, and a fortune in treatment costs. Extending this scheme to cover 5-12 year olds means we can start saving permanent teeth and take more pressure off a cash strapped service.
“Every year over 7,000 patients are diagnosed with dementia, and officials can’t let their oral care remain an afterthought. We need to get patients in care homes registered with dentists so they can get the expert care they deserve.”
The European age-standardised incidence rates for oral cancer for both men and women is significantly higher in Scotland at 16.8 per 100,000 per compared with 12.4 in England, and 11.9 in Northern Ireland. The BDA has called for the extension of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations to boys and for the next government to address the significant shortage of oral maxillofacial surgeons and oral medicine specialists that has led to considerable delays in treatment.
Commenting on recent moves from the UK government to introduce a sugar levy, Adrian Hart added: “Holyrood still has more work to do on sugar. We have an ingredient that’s cheap, addictive and has no nutritional value. The next Scottish government has to build on this levy, and take action on marketing, food labelling and public education to ensure families can make the right choices.”

The BDA’s five point plan for better oral health in Scotland:

1. Tackle inequalities early
Childsmile has already delivered huge improvements to the oral health of under-fives. Let’s build on that success, by extending the programme to 5-12 year olds.

The next government has to ensure the shortage of oral surgeons is addressed, and that the public are fully aware of the risks

Adrian Hart

2. Address the funding shortfall
NHS dentistry is struggling to keep up with demand. Let’s build a more transparent payment system so patients can make informed choices and have options to supplement NHS care.

3. Improve the oral health of the elderly
Increasingly older Scots have complex and often unmet needs. Let’s get patients in nursing homes registered with a dentist so we can ensure they get the dedicated care they need.

4. Action on oral cancer
Scotland has one of the highest oral cancer rates in Western Europe. Let’s raise awareness of this disease, and ensure dentists can turn the tide through prevention and diagnosis.

5. Deliver effective oral health for all
Tooth decay is almost always preventable. Let’s put cost-effective measures like action on sugar and targeted fluoridation at the heart of Scotland’s approach to improving health.

The BDA manifesto for the 2016 Scottish Elections is available to download

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