Our lives are influenced by many factors, including where we go to school, who we make friends with, and what opportunities we have.
One thing we don’t usually consider is how our socioeconomic status – a combination of our income, occupation, and social background – affects our dental health.
Several factors can affect our health, according to a report released by Public Health England two years ago.
It appears that there are clear and consistent social gradients in the prevalence of dental conditions, the impact of poor oral health, and the use of dental services based on socioeconomic position and area deprivation.”
“Some of the differences in oral and dental health attributed to socioeconomic status can be explained by the fact that children from higher income households have more access to dental care, including a more detailed diagnostic assessment and filling of one or more teeth.
In lower socioeconomic status, caries prevalence may be higher due to a lack of prevention and treatment services, as well as a diet high in sugar. It is important that children and their parents with low socioeconomic levels are educated in oral health, awareness raising, and guided to utilize treatment services more.”
What can we do to help those who may find themselves in this situation, through no fault of their own?
It is the Oral Health Foundation’s belief that education is the key to overcoming this problem, and that by providing information on oral health to the most vulnerable people, both in the UK and around the world, we can be more effective in achieving this goal.
Preventing dental issues is possible, by educating people from all walks of life to cultivate better oral hygiene and a nutritious diet. Caries is an avoidable disease, and we can aid in its prevention through proper use of fluoride toothpaste, brushing teeth for two minutes daily with 1,350 to 1,500 ppm fluoride toothpaste (over 3 years old) or 1000 ppm fluoride (under 3 years old), and eating foods low in sugar. Furthermore, adults should clean between their teeth at least once a day utilizing interdental brushes, dental tape or floss.
Children are not taught how to brush their teeth effectively in schools to keep them clean and prevent dental problems
Dental Buddy is a free educational resource that teachers and educators can use to teach children about dental disease
Especially in schools in more deprived areas, where access to NHS dentists may be difficult, this programme could be especially important to teach children about teeth and mouths. Good oral hygiene habits must be developed in childhood, and these habits will continue into adulthood.
It can be hard to find an NHS dentist in some areas, and almost two-thirds (39%) of adults don’t visit the dentist regularly.
However, if the patient does have a regular dentist, oral hygiene instruction is part of the NHS provision, so if the patient or their dentist has any concerns about their toothbrushing regime, the dentist can provide advice and guidance on how to keep their mouth clean. It may be necessary for the dentist to refer this to a dental hygienist or oral health educator.
Dentists will have to find other ways to reach adults who are unable to access regular dental care
A message could include how to choose the most appropriate and cost-effective dental products.
While the most expensive dental products can set you back several hundred pounds, there are plenty of oral health options for any budget size. Many online and High Street stores offer competitively priced electric toothbrushes for as low as £15-20. Similarly, shop-own brands of toothpaste often cost only around 50p whilst offering a fluoride strength of at least 1000 ppm for those aged 3 or under – a great bargain! For adults and older children, the suggested fluoride level is 1500ppm.
Fluoride levels in toothpaste should range from 1350-1500 parts per million (ppm).
Additional ingredients in toothpaste can help with other dental problems, including:
A high level of sensitivity.
The disease of the gums.
The process of whitening.
Protection of cavities.
For example, if you don’t have gum disease, there is no reason to spend more on toothpaste that treats gum disease.
A private healthcare plan or scheme that covers dental treatment might be worth asking your employer if you are unable to find a dentist on the NHS who is accepting new patients. Depending on the level of coverage that you have, you may be able to claim a certain amount of money back towards your dental treatment per year.
You can make use of private health care plans to fully finance basic dental treatments and regular check-ups and cleaning. This will enable you to adopt a proactive approach towards your oral health. By attending regular check-up appointments with your dentist, as advised, it is possible to save money in the long run, as early detection of any potential issues is much less expensive to treat than problems left too late. Furthermore, this proactive stance helps to eliminate dental pain and gum disease. Prevention guarantees that your teeth and gums remain healthy for life.