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Issue Date:- 23 December 2008

Save our dental service - stop playing politics, says charity

BRITIAN'S leading oral health charity has urged politicians to remember their duty even as pre-election rhetoric is ratcheted up.

The British Dental Health Foundation advises patients not to be put off dental check-ups after Tory claims that dentists were overcharging by as much as 25% to maximise their NHS contracts.

The Foundation lobbied for and has welcomed the newly-appointed independent committee reviewing NHS dentistry.  The charity now warns politicians to concentrate on finding a solution to problems.

Foundation chief executive Dr Nigel Carter said:- "A million fewer people are visiting the dentist since the new contracts came into effect 4 years ago.  Clearly dentists are not targeting contracts for easy money. 

The Government must address the issues, and the independent review is a start.  The Opposition and the political elite should get behind this review and support a positive change.

Negative messages run the risk undermining Britain's oral health.  For nearly 40 years we have campaigned with the key message advising people to visit their dentist regularly - as often as they recommend.

It is vital to get regular check-ups from an expert.  This is so important to dental health, its systemic links to overall health issues such as diabetes, and in checking for mouth cancer, which kills 1 person every 5 hours in the UK."

A coffee a day could keep cancer at bay

THE UK's leading mouth cancer campaigners have urged the population to wake up to a pot of coffee and boost chances of keeping clear of cancer.  The British Dental Health Foundation has welcomed news of coffee's potential after Japanese scientists found a cup of coffee a day made drinkers half as likely to develop oral cancer.  Drinking habits could prove a real boost in the fight to curb deaths from mouth cancer, which kills 1 person every 5 hours in the UK.  Cutting down on alcohol is another positive lifestyle choice.  Alcohol and tobacco are linked to 80% of cases, while people both drinking and smoking are 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer.

Foundation chief executive Dr Nigel Carter said:- "Though quitting smoking and alcohol are the 2 most positive lifestyle resolutions this New Year, research has shown a coffee a day could help against mouth cancer.  Our Mouth Cancer Action Week campaign each year also points out the need to visit the dentist regularly for oral cancer screenings, and if in doubt, get checked out."

Around 5,000 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer reach year in the UK.  Regular dental visits are vital as symptoms often occur pain free, so expert check-ups are necessary.  Self-examination for warning signs - including non-healing ulcers, red and white patches in the mouth or unusual lumps or changes in the mouth - is also an effective way of staying safe.

The recent coffee research was carried out by a team at Japan's Tohoku University School of Medicine, and tracked 40,000 people aged 40 to 64 over a 13 year period.  Studies showed people drinking at least a coffee a day were 49% less likely to develop cancers of the mouth or oesophagus.  In their report, published by the American Journal of Epidemiology, scientists noted an inverse association between drinking coffee and those at most risk of mouth cancer.

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