Providing services that help the local population improve and maintain good oral health is an important priority for public health.
Oral health of children
The percentage of children accessing dental services has increased from a baseline of 46.9% in 2006 when the current dental contact was introduced to the current figure of 50.4% in 2015. This compares to 62.8% for London and 69.4% for England.
There have been steady improvements within oral health over the past 15 years, but there is still a lot of work to do. In 2015 the proportion of 5-year-old children experiencing tooth decay was 35.5%, a reduction from 45.9% in 2012. This proportion of decay experience is much lower in 3-year-old children (17.3%).
Oral health of adults
In Tower Hamlets, fewer adults access dental services and a high proportion of adults have poor oral hygiene compared to London and England. Some 77% of adults have gum disease compared to 50% in England. A higher proportion of Asians (65%) have gum disease compared to the other ethnic groups (white 50%, black 44%).
Work we are doing locally to tackle this issue
Improving oral health in children is important because poor oral health in children is a predictor of poor oral health in adults. The role of dental public health is to provide advice on effective interventions, deliver oral health programmes and ensure co-ordination between dental providers.
Some areas of work include:
- Smiling Start - a programme targeting families with children under 2 years of age
- Brushing for Life programme - targeting health professionals working with children aged under 5
- Happy Smiles - a school-based health promotion programme aligned to PSHE education
- Healthy Teeth in Schools - a fluoride varnish programme for 3 to 6-year-old children, providing dental prevention intervention and access to primary care services for those with urgent treatment needs
- Training local dentists to identify early stages of mouth cancer and raise awareness of risk factors including alcohol and tobacco consumption in cigarettes, paan and shisha
- Promoting oral health in faith and cultural groups and organisations
- Educating, training and supporting looked after children services, care leavers, and carers and service providers for older people through community organisations and residential homes
- Improving oral health of people living with HIV, the homeless, those in sheltered housing and those with learning disabilities.
Anyone living, studying or working in Tower Hamlets can access good-quality NHS dental services. Simply find a dental practice that's convenient for you, and contact them to make an appointment.
To find your nearest dentist please call the health hotline on 020 7364 5016 or search online at www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/Dentists/LocationSearch/3
Out-of-hours Dental Service
For urgent dental problems outside of practice hours: 020 7377 7151
The service operates:
Monday to Friday from 6:30pm-10pm
Saturday and Sunday from 7:30am-3pm
From 7:30am-8pm on bank holidays.
Useful external links
NHS Choices: www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/Dentalhealth
British Dental Health Foundation: www.dentalhealth.org/