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The Christmas reception of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry and Oral Health took place on Tuesday 29 November in the House of Commons. The event promoted good oral health and the celebration of Christmas in a way that won’t do damage to teeth. Attending Parliamentarians and key figures from the world of British dentistry heard speeches from the Chair of the APPG Sir Paul Beresford MP, the BDA’s Chair Mick Armstrong, the sponsors of the event Wrigley, and the new Health Minister responsible for dentistry David Mowat MP.

The Minister said that the oral health improvements we have seen in recent years were a testament to the extremely important work dentists do, but stressed more needed to be done to tackle persistent inequalities in access and outcomes.

The newly-launched All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dentistry and Oral Health met yesterday (14 June) to discuss the issue of oral health inequalities and the impact of these on people's lives.

MPs and Lords attended, alongside representatives from across the sector, including NHS England, Public Health England, Health Education England, specialist dental groups and societies, the British Dental Industry Association and the BDA.

The event coincided with the release of a new survey by YouGov for the BDA, showing that poor oral health can affect people's career prospects. Seventy-seven per cent of respondents felt that decayed teeth or bad breath would hinder a candidate's chances of getting a job in public or client-facing roles.

Chaired by Sir Paul Beresford MP, a panel of speakers including Sara Hurley, Chief Dental Officer for England, Dr Colette Bridgman, Director of Public Health for Greater Manchester (and newly-appointed Chief Dental Officer for Wales), Professor Richard Watt chair of Dental Public Health at UCL and Baroness Glenys Thornton, Chief Executive of the Young Foundation, put forward their views on how to tackle the problem.

The panel agreed that dental disease is preventable and the problem has to be solved by coordinated action from public health bodies, central government and the dental sector. Sara Hurley said: "Every child should have a smile for life, irrespective of postcode."

Professor Watt made the point that 35% of 12 year-olds embarrassed to smile because of the state of their teeth and said that the EU-wide the cost of treating oral disease now ranks above Alzheimer's, and is on a par with heart disease.

Dr Bridgman talked about the successes of local programmes, such as Manchester Smiles but emphasised the need to implement a joined-up approach across the UK.

Baroness Thornton said she was keen to work with the BDA to help highlight the problem of inequalities and that she would consider commissioning her team to do more research on the sociological consequences of poor oral health.

Posing a question to the panel, BDA Chair Mick Armstrong made the point that the current dental contract does not incentivise prevention and asked for more money to be invested to ensure progress is made on breaking the link between decay and deprivation.

The APPG will continue to highlight this issue to key stakeholders and push for action.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry held its annual reception ahead of Parliament rising for Christmas. Key figures from British dentistry met in the House of Commons’ Churchill Room and heard speeches from Dan Poulter MP, Undersecretary of State in the Department of Health, and Sir Paul Beresford MP, Chair of the APPG.

Dr Poulter spoke about the challenges ahead for the dental profession and reform of the new dental contract.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry met on Tuesday 4 November to discuss dental regulation, with a speech given on The Future of Regulation by the Chair of the General Dental Council, Bill Moyes.

Chaired by Sir Paul Beresford MP, the meeting held host to representatives from numerous dental organisations keen to put their questions to Mr Moyes.

It is important that any new dental contract in England must work for dental practices and support their functioning as businesses; Health Minister Earl Howe stressed at a meeting of MPs at Westminster this week (10 July 2013). It must also support better access and health outcomes for patients and be cost effective, he said.

Earl Howe was speaking at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dentistry. Outlining the Government’s view of the progress of the pilots for new arrangements, he said that he was “chuffed” with the way it had been embraced by the profession. The pilots had recently entered a second phase, he said, with an extra 20 sites being added to the 70 practices already piloting new arrangements. The primary purpose of this phase is to refine the operation of the care pathways, he explained, adding that elements of a new system, rather than a completed new system, are being tested.

The Minister also heralded the early progress of the new NHS arrangements in regard to dentistry, expressing confidence in the placing of responsibility for all NHS dental care with NHS England and the structuring of the team responsible for dental public health at Public Health England.

The Minister also referred to ongoing work by NHS England on reviews of oral surgery and dental care for vulnerable and hard-to-reach patients. A task group looking at the latter issue had met for the first time, he said.

On the eve of new laws on tooth whitening coming into force in the UK, a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dentistry heard of the damage that can be done when the procedure is carried out by non-dentists, and what impact the new laws are likely to have.

Dr Stuart Johnston, Chair of the Council of European Dentists’ working group on tooth whitening and member of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee, spoke to the APPG on the 30 October (2012) about the years-long struggle to get the EU Cosmetics Directive amended, and explained that it will now be illegal to supply concentrated tooth-whitening products to non-dentists. Dr Johnston also explained that Trading Standards will have a key role to play in enforcing the new laws, and expressed concern that without central co-ordination there is a danger that there will be variations in enforcement across the country.

Gregory Stafford and Tessa Nejranowski of the General Dental Council explained that the GDC takes the issue of tooth whitening by non-dentists extremely seriously, but a lack of investigative powers often prevents them from gathering the evidence they need to pursue a prosecution. In addition to bringing prosecutions when possible – a case is due to go to be heard later this month – the GDC works in partnership with trading standards, the police and the Advertising Standards Agency to enforce the law on tooth whitening. They have also distributed an information leaflet to educate the public on the importance of having teeth whitening carried out by qualified practitioners.

The GDC speakers also reiterated the organisation’s call for an increase in the size of fine that can be imposed against non-dental professionals who perform whitening, branding the current maximum £5,000 derisory.

The UK could cope with a phase down of the use of dental amalgam in the longer term, but not in the immediate future, a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry has been told.

The meeting of Parliamentarians and senior stakeholders from the dental industry, which was held against a backdrop of ongoing United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) discussions about a potential phasing out or down of the use of Mercury, heard from senior academics from the UK and Germany, as well as the Chief Dental Officer for England, Dr Barry Cockcroft.

Professor Trevor Burke, of the University of Birmingham Dental School, told attendees that he believes a prudent approach would be a phasing out, rather than down of the use of amalgam. That transition, he argued, needs to happen in parallel with the development of an alternative material with the qualities to make it a practical substitute. That replacement, he said, is still a few years away, and the use of amalgam – particularly in molar fillings – should be retained for the time being.

That conclusion was shared by Professor Gottfried Schmalz of the University of Regensburg, who argued that amalgam must remain available as a treatment for at least a generation. This time, he argued, would allow for the improvement of the quality of alternative materials, would see improved oral health that would reduce the number of complex cases, and would allow for the education of both dentists and patients about alternative materials. Professor Schmalz also stressed the particular role that amalgam fillings play in the treatment of more complex cases and said that composite fillings are between 1.7 and 3.5 times more expensive than amalgam, due to the greater amount of time needed to place them.

Dr Cockcroft said that he doesn’t believe that a ban on the use of dental amalgam is imminent, and that a phase down is the right approach. Dental amalgam, he asserted, has played a significant part in improving oral health and reducing edentulousness over the course of the last 35 years. A new dental contract in England, which is currently being developed by piloting, will mean that the type of restoration provided to patients will depend on patient need, rather than the remuneration system in which it is provided.

The meeting followed a 2011 World Health Organization (WHO) report, which considered the health and environmental factors arising from different filling materials.

Patients want to be confident that dental disease will not impair their quality of life, but that means different things to different people, Professor Jimmy Steele told a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dentistry today.

The event, which considered the issue of whether NHS dentistry can deliver what patients want, also saw Professor Steele stress the different needs of patients aged under and over 45 years. For those aged under 45, he argued, a capitation-based system and the removal of treatment targets makes a lot of sense. For older patients the world is very different and more complex he believes. The best possible use of resources in treating these patients is very important, he said, and in the current contractual system perversities around band three treatments mean they are not being used as well as they might be.

Discussing a recent mystery shopper survey of dentists, he argued that it isn’t the length of time a check-up lasts, but its content, that is key. He also stressed the importance of thinking about issues around NHS entitlements and choice and warned that we now have a generation of patients who have never had dental problems and have therefore become conditioned only to visit the dentist only when they are in pain.

The event also saw General Dental Council (GDC) Director of Policy and Communications Mike Browne unveil the results of the GDC’s Annual Patients and Public Survey and the Annual Survey of Registrants. The GDC’s research identified high levels of both public confidence that they are being treated fairly by their dental care professionals and satisfaction with the care received, he reported. The behaviour of the dental professional and the high quality of care were the most-often given reasons for confidence in dental professionals, he said. Amongst those who lacked confidence in the person treating them, the cost of treatment was the most often cited reason, with a third of those lacking confidence identifying this as the reason. Three-quarters of patients said they had confidence that any complaints they had would be resolved fairly.

The GDC had also asked both patients and dental professionals what they thought was important in giving the public confidence in dental professionals, Mr Browne explained. Transparency about costs and displaying clear information about fees was rated highly by both dental professionals (69 per cent) and the public (71 per cent).

 

Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry, Sir Paul Beresford, has challenged fellow MPs to visit their local salaried dental services to see for themselves the work community dentists are doing. He was speaking at the APPG’s 2011 summer reception, which took place today in Parliament. Welcoming an audience of politicians and members of the dental community, he urged all MPs to visit their local salaried dental health service to see the problems they tackle first hand and to ensure services are joined up in their constituencies.

Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for dentistry, gave the opening speech at the event and said it was an exciting time for the profession, with the launch of the pilots that will inform the new dental contract.

He highlighted the progress made over the last 20 years in dental health, with the level of tooth decay in children dropping dramatically, particularly for 12-15 year olds, but said there were still improvements to be made with younger children’s oral health, and especially the issue of tackling regional variations and health inequalities. He explained that the Government has given a strong commitment to improving children’s dental health, but that a broad cross-sector approach was needed to ensure young children and their families access dental care, maintain good oral hygiene and adopt healthy diets. “The profession should be proud of progress made so far, but there is still hard work to follow”, he said, calling on professionals to work together to ensure good oral health for both children and adults.

He also praised the work of schemes such as Manchester Smiles, the dental public health initiative being led by the final speaker at the event, NHS Manchester Consultant in Dental Public Health Colette Bridgman, and its success in engaging with children, families and a wide range of professionals and services to ensure those who do not normally access dental health services are reached.

Dr Bridgman gave an overview of the Manchester Smiles scheme, which focuses on ensuring dental health is integral to public health and promotes partnerships working across a range of professionals to address the health inequalities in the region. “In Manchester, 40 per cent of children are in poverty and poor oral health is a mirror of the context of their lives. So, this is not just a dental problem, it cuts across a range of services and should be the business of all”, she said.

The Manchester Smiles scheme identifies the ‘missing thousands’ – the children who fall through the net as they do no attend a dentist regularly, and are therefore more likely to suffer from dental decay that is preventable. The scheme links up dental practices, schools, salaried dental services, school nurses and safeguarding children teams to provide timely preventative intervention, dental care and advice. Part of the scheme is the ‘Buddy Practice’, an initiative that sees dental teams visit schools at ‘drop off’ and ‘pick up’ times to give children a brief examination and apply fluoride varnish. Parents get advice on how to protect their child’s teeth at home and children are given a toothbrush and toothpaste, to encourage a good brushing routine. Children are then followed up after two months with a second session in the school for those who have not attended a full check-up at the dental surgery after the first session.

Dr Bridgman concluded: “The outcomes of the scheme speak for themselves. A large number of children are captured and those who are in pain get treatment. This has a knock-on effect to improve school performance. Dentists have been very enthusiastic about the scheme and welcome the opportunity to get out of the surgery and gain a better understanding of who does what in the system. There is great potential to roll-out this scheme in other parts of the country which have an identified need.”

A visit today to King’s College London Dental Institute (KCLDI) has highlighted to Parliamentarians the role played by the UK’s dental schools.

A visit by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry allowed a group of MPs and Peers to see the work of a busy dental school, including its research, teaching and clinical activities. Guests were able to visit KCLDI’s craniofacial development and stem cell research laboratories, tour facilities for the care of vulnerable and anxious patients, and see the state-of-the-art hapTEL technology used in teaching students. The visit was led by Professor Nairn Wilson, Professor of Restorative Dentistry and Dean and Head of KCLDI.

Parliamentarians learnt about the evolution of dental academia, including the opening of new dental schools, expansion of student numbers and the contribution many general dental practitioners are playing in educating dental students. The development of shorter courses for graduates from related disciplines and the development of training for dental care professionals were also highlighted.

UK institutions’ eminence in dental research was also on the agenda, with the relationship between quality and continued funding and the breadth of research being carried out explained. The increasing links with industry that are helping to deliver millions of pounds of income were also emphasised.

The Parliamentarians also heard from Lauren Holmes, the President of the institution’s Dental Society and a fourth-year student. She highlighted the experience of dental students and stressed the importance of the reforms currently being undertaken in dentistry engaging the next generation of practitioners who will deliver care in the system that is created.

Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for dentistry, this week (18 January) set out his aspirations for the Government’s reforms to NHS dentistry in England to a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry. The meeting, which was attended by MPs, peers and stakeholders from the dental family, also saw discussion of the how proposals in the Health and Social Care Bill will change commissioning arrangements and what impact proposals in the Public Health White Paper could have on the way dentistry is organised.

The APPG event also saw discussion of issues including problems with the current dental contract, regulation and decontamination. The BDA is the elected Secretariat to the group.

Professor Saman Warnakulasuriya of King’s College London Dental Institute has told a cross-party group of MPs and Peers that more needs to be done to combat the increasing incidence rate of mouth cancers across the UK. Speaking at an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry meeting this week, the Professor of Oral Medicine and Experimental Oral Pathology highlighted that alcohol and tobacco use are the main modifiable risk factors associated with the disease, alongside a healthy diet. To tackle the high incidence rates, he said that there needs to be more awareness of the disease amongst the public, more training for dentists and tougher policies on harm reduction such as a review of the Government’s alcohol policy and for the Government to back point of sale tobacco legislation. He added there needs to be tighter control over the sale of betel quid, a chewing tobacco which is widely used amongst the UK’s South Asian community. Professor Warnakulasuriya pointed out that the packaging of chewing tobacco does not contain any health messages, which is a concern given the higher incidence of oral cancer in the UK’s South Asian community than the general population. Attendees at the meeting, held in the Palace of Westminster, also heard about evidence from a study in the publication ‘Oral Oncology’ of emerging risk factors associated with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). This could correlate with an increase in incidence in the young, he said.

Prior to Prof Warnakulasuriya’s presentation, parliamentarians heard from Andy Large who was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2001. Andy – a Parliamentary Party Candidate (PPC) in the last election – told of his story which resulted in him receiving extreme radiotherapy for his diagnosis in order to treat the spread of the cancer beyond the lymph nodes. He also said that he had little awareness of the signs and symptoms prior to his experience of the disease and urged the public that they should visit their dentist regularly.

Members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dentistry (APPG) this week saw how technology is changing the delivery of care to patients at the annual British Dental Trade Association (BDTA) Showcase event. APPG members Sir Paul Beresford MP, Kevin Barron MP and Lord Colwyn had a private tour of the exhibition where they witnessed many of the new products on the market and learned more about the benefits of a multi-disciplinary team approach in dentistry. The parliamentarians were accompanied by representatives of the APPG for Dentistry stakeholder group.

The parliamentarians also heard from BDTA president Ed Attenborough on the history of Showcase, the potential challenges facing the profession during a recession and the impact of Health Technical Memorandum 01-05 and the Care Quality Commission registration.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dentistry’s programme of summer events concluded today. The APPG co-hosted with the Associate Parliamentary Health Group an event titled NHS Dentistry: An Uncertain Future. The meeting, chaired by APPG Chair Charlotte Atkins MP, was addressed by Chief Dental Officer Barry Cockcroft, Professor Jimmy Steele and GDPC Chair John Milne. The meeting considered the background to Professor Steele’s review, its key recommendations and asked what steps need to be taken next. The meeting was attended by an audience of Parliamentarians and stakeholders from the dental and wider health sectors.

Parliamentarians must confront a number of issues if the oral health challenges facing the nation are to be met, a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry was told this week. Addressing representatives of the dental community and more than 30 MPs and Peers, Newcastle Dental School Dean Professor Jimmy Steele argued that Parliamentarians must achieve the best value for every pound of taxpayers’ money spent, while at the same time guaranteeing the protection of citizens, consumers and patients. But despite these difficult issues they must confront, he also acknowledged that the long-term nature of oral health problems would means that the beneficial effects of their actions would only be seen outside the timescale of a single Parliament.

Professor Steele also reminded those present that Britain’s oral health has been on an upward trajectory for many years and predicted that trend will be shown to have continued by the publication of the Adult Dental Health Survey later in 2010.

The meeting was the second annual summer reception of the APPG for Dentistry. Attendees included Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Earl Howe, shadow health team member Mary Creagh MP and Rt Hon Kevin Barron MP, former Chair of the House of Commons Health Committee. Parliamentarians were joined by representatives of the dental community, which was hosted by Sir Paul Beresford MP, an officer of the group and dental surgeon.

An audience of Parliamentarians, stakeholders from the dental family and consumer groups this week heard Professor Jimmy Steele reinforce the importance of piloting the changes that are expected to arise from his recent report on NHS dentistry in England. Speaking at the first summer reception of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dentistry, Professor Steele stressed the importance of openness and innovation in taking forward his team’s proposals and underlined the importance of proper piloting to effective reforms.

He also argued that dentistry is too often left on the fringes of healthcare and that it must be given more priority by those responsible for commissioning it. Noting that his team’s own report was published less than a year after the Health Select Committee report that triggered it, he argued that there is a momentum for change that must be harnessed.

Professor Steele was speaking in response to Health Select Committee Chair the Rt Hon Kevin Barron MP, who reminded the audience of the challenges identified for dentists and Government alike by his committee. The reception marked the first anniversary of the publication of the Health Select Committee’s report and was the first by the APPG for Dentistry, which was set up at the end of 2008 to provide a focus for dental and oral health for Parliamentarians at Westminster.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry today visited NHS Dentist, a large NHS practice in Fulham. The visit allowed the MPs to witness firsthand the daily workings of a busy NHS practice and hear direct from the dentists and dental care professionals about their working lives and the challenges they face. Present were Charlotte Atkins, Labour MP for Staffordshire Moorlands, Health Select Committee Member and Chair of the Group; Sir Paul Beresford, Conservative MP for Mole Valley; Dr Doug Naysmith, Labour/Co-op MP for Bristol North West and Sandra Gidley, Liberal Democrat MP for Romsey.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry this week held its final meeting before the General Election. The meeting in the House of Commons focused on the oral health of disadvantaged groups. An audience of cross-party MPs, Peers and stakeholders from across the dental profession heard about delivering dental care to the prison population and residents of care homes.

After an introduction by Charlotte Atkins, Labour MP for Staffordshire Moorlands and the Chair of the APPG for Dentistry, the meeting received presentations from three speakers. Judith Husband, BDA Executive Board Member and dentist at Bullingdon Community Prison, began by providing an insight into providing care in a prison and the unique challenges it presents to dentists and their teams. Gill Heyes, of the Residential Oral Care Sheffield Scheme, spoke about the pioneering work taking place in the city to deliver joined-up care to patients in residential care homes. This scheme has been heralded by the dental profession and was cited by the BDA’s Oral Health Inequalities paper as an example of best practice when it was published last year. Finally, senior dental nurse in Gloucester and President of the British Association of Dental Nurses, Sue Bruckel, highlighted her experience of providing care in prisons as well as the role that dental nurses and other dental care professionals can play in providing that care. A lively question and answer session with the MPs and Peers followed the speeches.

The momentum of activity on dentistry at Westminster continued with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry holding its first meeting since Parliament’s summer recess. The event, titled A patient voice? Delivering the dental care patients really want, heard from two speakers; British Dental Health Foundation Chief Executive Nigel Carter, and Hounslow PCT Dental and Opthalmic Services Senior Commissioning Manager Kelly Nizzer.

An audience of Members of Parliament, Peers and stakeholders from the dental community, heard about a wide range of patient concerns including ability to access services, confusion about charges for treatment and lack of understanding of which treatments are available on the NHS. The meeting also heard about social marketing initiatives in Hounslow to encourage patients to visit a dentist and schemes to provide toothbrushes to children from socially deprived backgrounds who might not otherwise have one.

Debate following the presentations considered issues including access to NHS dentistry in rural areas, funding for practices wishing to increase their NHS commitment and the role of dental care professionals in providing services to older patients.

Four All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs), including the APPG for Dentistry, joined forces this week to host a meeting considering the case for the tobacco control measures in the Health Bill. The Dentistry Group, alongside the APPGs for Smoking and Health, for Asthma and for Heart Disease, heard from Oliver Smith of the Department of Health, as well as Professor Gerard Hastings of Stirling University, and Paul Thomas, Head of Trading Standards for Devon County Council. The focus of the presentations was on the promotional effect of branding on cigarette packaging and the illegal use of vending machines to purchase tobacco products by minors. For more information on the tobacco control measures in the Health Bill visit www.smokefreeaction.org.uk

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry held its first official meeting on Wednesday. Professor Jimmy Steele, who leads the review into NHS dental services in England, presented to the group. Charlotte Atkins MP (Lab) chaired the meeting which was attended by eleven MPs and peers from across the political parties, including shadow health minister Mike Penning MP and several members of the Health Select Committee. A large stakeholder group of representatives from the dental sector also attended.

Following Professor Steele’s presentation, MPs and Peers asked a range of questions covering topics including variability in access, representation of the public and the timescale of the review. The stakeholder group also had the opportunity to pose questions examining issues including the future funding of dentistry, continuity of care, dental needs of the older population and involvement of dentists in the wider health agenda.

All Parliamentary Group for Dentistry