The Oral Health Helpline – Help Where Help is Needed

Posted by: Charlie Burrows

We’ve discussed the education of patients before and the importance of people understanding their teeth and how to brush properly and maintain them. Preventing cavities is important and there are so many elements to keeping your teeth clean and many people have particular areas they need to focus on, following a dental visit.

The biggest problem still for many is knowledge and although much information can be found online, there is no guarantee that it is accurate. That’s why it’s great news to hear that so many patients are using the dedicated advice line from the Oral Health Foundation for support and information.


Over 400,000 Calls

Staffed by qualified professionals in the dental industry, the Oral Health hotline helps answer questions from people worried or who need advice and support about teeth. Not only will the helpline answer common questions but also any concerns about treatments and procedures and what may be involved. The Oral Health Foundation also are recommending dental practices to refer patients to them should they have follow up questions on anything they are unsure of. By offering this alternative option for people who have questions but who in some cases, may not be able to get into a dentist locally, it’s a fantastic resource to help and support, as well as encourage and educate those who could be suffering or need treatment.

400,000 calls shows there is a growing trend in information requests and surely it’s a more effective and safer route than patients using search engines to find out information which could ultimately, be incorrect.


What’s the Alternative?

You can find out a lot of information online about dental problems and related treatments but the issue is that we live in a culture where there is information overload. Searching online for treatment cures, procedure information and checking on health concern topics isn’t advisable simply because every case is different. In some cases you’ll find the simple answer to your question but there may be other factors to consider in your particular case and so we always recommend using either the advice line or to contact your local dentist.


Education leads to Prevention

As reported last year, due to studies done throughout the UK by the PHE (Public Health England), it was shown that almost a quarter of children started school with rotten teeth (reported here in the Telegraph). Primary schools are seeing more problems with children’s teeth as they are taken out of school for treatment. The average was 23.3% of children had dental decay and around 17,000 of them had to have teeth removed under anaesthetic.

It’s expected as we get older that we’ll need to possible have a tooth out or at least some main dental treatment but for kids this young to be going under general anaesthetic is preventable. The overall number of those with tooth decay at such a young age could also be avoided but it’s clear that perhaps it may be an issue of parents not knowing enough about how to maintain their children’s oral health. The oral helpline would certainly help with this.


Areas to Benefit from the Helpline – Decay Demographic

The worrying trend that has been seen in recent years is that those from lower income backgrounds or more deprived areas are more likely to suffer from decay. This seems that the issue of the lack of NHS dentists in local areas is rearing its head more regularly now and that the struggles patients have of finding a dentist near enough to them that will treat them on the NHS is partly to cause for this trend. When the figures for Yorkshire and Humber are at 4.1% for tooth extractions but the East of England can see this at 1.3%, there is definitely a postcode trend here to be concerned about. A contact helpline answering concerns and questions would be hugely beneficial to these areas.



Ultimately, there is a mixture of things that need to happen, from both parents and the system, to try and help reduce numbers for those suffering with decay early on;

  • Parents are advised to start dental visits once their children’s milk teeth appear, so as to flag any potential issues early on.
  • Habits should be curbed, such as sugary drinks like juice before bed, sweets and sugary foods.
  • Education should be made available in some form (the helpline is an ideal go-to solution for this) to parents for how to brush their children’s teeth properly and to maintain good brushing technique.
  • The availability of dentists in local areas across all regions needs to be improved if we’re to see more positive figures in the future.


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