Tariq Drabu Calls for Increased Public Awareness Regarding Oral Health

Tariq Drabu says “The government needs to increase public awareness and education.”

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Tariq Drabu

Tariq Drabu

I am disappointed to count to the results of these surveys. With so much more emphasis in the public domain about dental health and toothbrushing I would have thought that these figures would be better.

(PRWEB) May 09, 2013

Tariq Drabu, leading Manchester GDC registered dentist and the owner of Langley Dental Practice in Middleton, Manchester has today issued a call for the government to improve public awareness of oral and dental health and the link to systemic diseases. His comments follow the news that a recent survey from dental payment provider Simply Health published on 26.4.2013 which revealed wide areas of lack of knowledge and understanding when it came to the links between dental and systemic disease. A link to the survey report can be seen here. The total sample size was 5,000 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25 March – 2 April 2013. The survey was carried out online.

The survey indicated that while around seven out of 10 people recognise that poor oral health can have an impact on the rest of their body, many people are not so aware when it comes to what diseases it has potential links with. The survey of 5,000 British adults has shown that while a third of people polled know that poor oral health can be linked to cardiovascular disease and mouth cancer (59%), only a small number of British adults are aware that poor oral health can be linked to dementia (6%), pancreatic cancer (5%), and rheumatoid arthritis (5%). What was most worrying was the news that 22% of British adults would not change their current habits even if they knew that poor oral health was linked with more serious health conditions.

The call by Tariq Drabu also follows the news that in Wales appalling new figures show that more than a third of Welsh people brush their teeth only once a day - or less. As part of another survey commissioned by a dental payment plan provider, figures revealed that 31% of people surveyed admitted to falling below the recommended twice-a-day routine, with 4% of those admitting to not brushing on a daily basis at all. The story can be seen here. These worrying figures came to light recently in spite of supposed widespread knowledge about the benefit of oral hygiene and wider awareness of the benefits of toothbrushing.

Commenting on the findings Tariq Drabu said "I am disappointed to note to the results of these surveys. With so much more emphasis in the public domain about dental health and toothbrushing I would have thought that these figures would be better. The two major dental diseases which are tooth decay and gum disease are both preventable. We know that tooth decay is a preventable disease and it is a well known fact that getting fluoride in to contact with teeth will have a positive effect on dental health. The best ways of doing this is by Fluoridation of the public water supply. In terms of toothbrushing and oral health there needs to be an increase in public awareness through our local health services as part of a wider educational campaign. This educational campaign needs to take place from early years onwards so that good habits are instilled into children from an early age.

Tariq Drabu sounded a note of caution since the current major NHS reforms that are being implemented this month may well mean that matters such as dental public health will be overlooked. Tariq Drabu said "with the dissolution of Primary Care Trusts responsible for local health provision these current major NHS reorganisations may lead to moves towards public water fluoridation and wide dental public health being missed and in some cases abandoned, leading to a deterioration in the dental health of the population, especially children."

Tariq Drabu who has owned Langley Dental Practice since 1998, was outspoken in his support for water fluoridation and increasing education as effective public health measures. He said, "We have been practising here in North Manchester, which is an area of high social deprivation and poor dental health for over 15 years. In terms of levels of tooth decay, our locality figures are in the bottom 20 out of all 300 health trusts in the whole country. Figures from the Department of Health show that areas like ours have children's tooth decay rates that are eight times worse than the best areas in the country. Therefore we need prompt and proactive public health measures such as water fluoridation in order to improve the dental health of the population, especially children. A comparable area like South Birmingham, which is in the bottom third for social deprivation but which has fluoride in the water, is in the top third of areas with the lowest levels of tooth decay. So, when we compare like for like we can see that fluoride does work."

Tariq Drabu went on to say "back in 2010 after the election the Coalition government in its flagship "Programme for Government" document said not only that it would introduce a new NHS dentistry contract but more importantly it talked about an additional focus on the oral health of schoolchildren. The new contract is making ground but the dental public health of children is falling by the wayside and the confusion surrounding fluoridation will only make matters worse."

Tariq Drabu who was chairman of Bury and Rochdale Local Dental Committee between 2003 and 2006 urged on the government to take the lead and press ahead with a workable public health agenda that put water fluoridation and education at the top of dental public health especially for children.

Tariq Drabu concluded by saying "The government needs to take a strong lead to get fluoridation back on the agenda. The government needs to increase public awareness and education. The government talks a lot about reducing health inequalities. It needs to show that it is serious. It can show that it is serious by moving forward with a programme of education and water fluoridation."


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