NHS Health Scotland welcomes the new Scottish Government oral health improvement plan, with its strong commitment to address oral health inequalities and a move to more evidence-based prevention of oral diseases.
Dr Colwyn Jones, Consultant in Dental Public Health, said:
"We particularly welcome the focus on people in care homes, the frail and elderly. The fundamental right to a clean and healthy mouth, so important to our human dignity, needs to be upheld.
"The plan aims to continue the recent improvement in child tooth decay rates seen using fluoride toothpaste. Actions include ensuring dental treatment is available and designing practice allowances to reflect the social deprivation status of patients.
“Dental decay is preventable, but like most human diseases, it does reflect the general level of poverty where children are brought up. That’s why a focus on children, and the extension of the Childsmile programme, are so important to improving dental health. But to combat high levels of oral cancer in Scotland, and for a long-term reduction in oral health inequalities, we also need bold, societal levels actions such as increasing the price of fizzy drinks, raising tobacco tax and higher alcohol excise duty.
“While the prevalence of dental decay is falling in most age groups, decay is higher among people living in poverty. The work of the proposed strategic group to provide oversight of national oral health improvement programmes must make sure they address the socio-economic differences in oral and general health. Exploring the potential for general health checks for adults while attending the dentist is a bold and radical suggestion. Therefore, with these 41 actions taken together, we look forward to updates on the progress of the plan.”