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New PHE dental health guidance recommends a healthy lifestyle to help protect oral health

Public Health England has released the latest Delivering Better Oral Health guidance today. The guidance is aimed at dental health professionals and provides them with evidence based interventions and advice that can improve and maintain the oral health of their patients.

The guidance highlights the positive impact a healthy lifestyle has on oral health; in particular the role played by good tooth brushing habits and a healthy diet, along with stopping tobacco use and reducing alcohol consumption to within the lower risk guidelines.

To help prevent tooth decay, the guidance recommends:

  1. Advising parents/carers regarding their children’s diets and tooth brushing habits. Brushing children’s teeth as soon as they erupt at about 6 months, brushing before bed and at least one other time daily using a fluoride toothpaste.
  1. Advising adults and parents/carers regarding the strength of fluoride toothpaste to use for themselves and their children and that after brushing, to spit out excess toothpaste and saliva, not to rinse with either water or a mouthwash.
  1. Eating a healthy, balanced diet based on the eatwell plate and reducing the amount of sugar consumed will help prevent dental caries. Avoid consuming foods and drinks containing added sugar before bedtime, as the mouth produces less saliva at night to protect your teeth.
  1. Tobacco use seriously affects general and oral health. People who use tobacco should receive advice to stop and be offered support to do so, with a referral to their local stop smoking service.
  1. Drinking alcohol above the national guidelines adversely affects oral health, including significantly increasing the risk of oral cancers. Dental teams should identify any risk and offer brief advice on how to work towards drinking within the consumption guidelines and refer potentially dependent drinkers to local support services.

Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, said: “I am delighted to announce the launch of the 3rd edition of PHE’s Delivering Better Oral Health guidance; an evidence based toolkit to support dental teams in improving their patients’ oral health. Many of the risk factors for general health conditions also affect oral health such as smoking, alcohol misuse and a poor diet.

“Dental teams have a really important role in advising their patients about how they can improve and maintain both their dental and general health. We must all work together to ensure that good oral and dental health is protected and promoted and the prevalence of tooth decay is reduced.”

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One comment

  1. Peter Pratt says:

    I welcome this advice – dental / oral health is often overlooked as part of programmes designed to improve the physical health of vulnerable people.

    It is understandable that the advice is aimed at dental health professionals, but given that many vulnerable people do not access – or have no contact with dental health professionals it would be helpful if the scope of this guidance could be extended to include other health professionals.

    Clearly regular contact with dental health professionals is a central component of good oral/dental health – but we also need to share best practice to help other professionals who may be in regular contact with vulnerable people who do not – or refuse to engage with dental services.

    People with severe mental health problems may be up to 3.5 times more likely to loose their teeth – oral health guidance needs to be framed in such a way that the oral health of these vulnerable people is improved.

    Thank you