Brush up on staff dental health

Paul Gibbons from Westfield Health

The Government has recommended that dentists join GPs and other health professionals in discussing their patients’ overall health and lifestyle during appointments.

With oral health greatly affected by diet, exercise, smoking and drinking habits, the British Dental Health Foundation hopes the initiative will encourage more people to consider how their lifestyle could impact on their oral health.

Chief Executive of the Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said: “Taking the time out to discuss a patient’s smoking habit, alcohol consumption levels or poor diet could save lives, as all of those are associated with the risk of developing mouth cancer.

“If the healthcare profession, and particularly the dental profession, discussed with their patients how their oral health could be improved, I firmly believe we would see the number of developing dental diseases fall across a period of time.”

Research has shown that sugary foods and drinks can damage oral health, while studies have proven that people who stay fit and healthy are 40 per cent less likely to develop gum disease.

Mouth cancer remains a major issue in the UK with cases rising by 46 per cent since 1997. It is estimated that 30,000 people will die from the disease in the next decade unless more is done to change their lifestyles.

According to dental health experts, less than half of all adults have an acceptable oral hygiene routine, with the average time spent brushing just 45 seconds as opposed to the recommended two minutes. More worryingly still, figures from the Adult Dental Health Survey also revealed that a quarter of adults skip brushing altogether at least once a day.

Poor oral health has links with poor all-round health. Serious illnesses such as head and neck cancers, for example, are much more likely to be diagnosed in patients suffering from advanced gum disease.

Dr Carter said: “There is an increasing body of clinical evidence of the systemic links between poor oral health and some of the biggest causes of serious poor health and death in the UK. Gum disease may contribute to the furring of the arteries, which can cause heart disease. People with gum disease are also nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes.”

Employers who encourage employees to lead a healthy lifestyle and look after their oral health could create a more productive workforce and potentially reduce absenteeism.

Westfield Health’s Chamber Primary Health Plan, which is available to all members of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, includes a dental benefit, which enables employees to claim back the cost of private and NHS check-ups and treatment, up to set limits.

Jeremy Revell, Managing Director of celebrity agency Revellation, introduced the Chamber Plan for his staff. He said “As an employer, you have reassurance that your staff are more likely to attend dental check-ups and other important health checks because they know that the plan is helping to cover the cost.

“They may even go more regularly as a result – and the better staff feel, the better they will perform.”

For more information about the Chamber Plan, visit Chamber Services/Health & Wellbeing

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