This week, headlines have been pouring in stating that it could take someone in England up to three years to see a dentist for a routine check-up. Let’s dig into the details behind the headlines and discuss how you can best protect your pearly whites.
Dental practices are currently under immense pressure. As you’d expect, the sting of this mammoth workload is felt by patients, too. The Covid-19 pandemic initially forced dental practices to close for three months. This meant that routine check-ups and treatments were pushed back, thus creating a snowballing workload for reopening time.
Once dental surgeries reopened, they still faced challenges that meant their ever-growing workload could not be met. To keep surgeries safe, all dentists had to leave the room for an hour after a drill had been used. This was to protect the patient from any airborne Covid-19 particles during treatment, which caused long unfillable gaps in surgery appointment calendars. Additionally, dental practices were only allowed to focus on emergencies. This meant all check-up appointments had to be pushed back.
Though check-ups have now been reinstated, waiting rooms can only hold a limited number of patients at any given time, to allow for social distancing. This makes it even trickier to catch up on the backlog of patients waiting for check-ups. There are reportedly around nine months worth of check-up appointments that need to be scheduled in, not including anyone who needs treatment.
On top of this, NHS, dental care funding has drastically been reduced by the government. This means that trying to fit in more patients to make up for the delay is not possible. Some patients have considered private dental care as their only option. But, this is not an option for everyone.
What do dentists say?
Imelda Redmond, the national director of NHS dentistry, said: "The twin crisis of access and affordability hitting NHS dentistry means many people are not able to access timely care - and the poorest are hardesthit. Those human stories show that oral health is a social justice and equity issue. Reform of dental contracts needs to be a matter of urgency for this Government." (The Express)
These problems have led to patients having even more severe dental problems, including loss of teeth, and in some cases hospitalisation after overdosing on painkillers. The backlog has left many patients with no other option.
The Department of Health has insisted it is committed to supporting dentists so 'everyone across the country can access affordable, high-quality dental care' (The Daily Mail), but this backlog does not seem to be disappearing anytime soon.
How to look after your teeth at home
Looking after your teeth every day at home can prevent decay, infections and ultimately tooth loss. Good oral hygiene is no small feat, especially if you can’t book in with the dentist as soon as you’d like to.
Brush twice a day
Brushing twice a day for two minutes is a non-negotiable in tooth care. You’ll want to use a soft brush to preserve the important shiny enamel that acts as an armour for your teeth. Be careful not to use a heavy hand. You don’t need to press hard on your teeth to clean them. You can ensure you’re cleaning them thoroughly by simply brushing for long enough, and using circular motions throughout.
Floss every day
Flossing is also essential, and yes, you need to do it every day. Brushing can only clean the surface of your teeth, whereas flossing tackles those hard to reach areas between teeth, where food particles often get stuck. If you don’t clean between your teeth, plaque can quickly form.
Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria. This bacteria feeds on the particles of food that remain in your mouth after eating, and loves all things sugary. When the bacteria feed, they release a corrosive acid, which eats away at your tooth enamel to cause cavities.
Replace your toothbrush every 2-3 months
It’s a fact that we don’t change our toothbrushes as regularly as we should. Our toothbrushes usually reside in our bathrooms, not too far from our toilets. Need we say more? After a certain period of time, your toothbrush collects too much bacteria to sufficiently clean your teeth.
Using an old toothbrush makes your mouth vulnerable to excess bacteria, and strips you of the benefits of toothbrushing.
Avoid sugar as much as possible
Though we love it, sugar is terrible news for your teeth. We talked about the bacteria that gets trapped between your teeth. This bacteria feeds on sugar, and when it does so, it omits an acidic substance that breaks down your enamel and causes infections.
The Brushbox mission
Even when you have regular access to the dentist, your home tooth care is incredibly important. Brushbox was founded to improve oral care standards and make tooth cleaning convenient and environmentally-friendly. We deliver all your tooth care essentials to your home, exactly when you need them. So, there’s really no excuse for not taking care of your teeth.
All our products are completely sustainable and zero-waste. We even plant a tree every time we sell a toothbrush.
Click here to purchase our at-home tooth care supplies.
Regular tips on dental hygiene are also posted on our Instagram page @brushboxuk.