Why is it an issue?Oral health means more than good teeth; it is integral to general health and essential for well-being. It implies being free of chronic oro-facial pain, oral and pharyngeal (throat) cancer, oral tissue lesions, birth defects such as cleft lip and palate, and other diseases and disorders that affect the oral, dental and craniofacial tissues, collectively known as the craniofacial complex.
The craniofacial complex allows us to speak, smile, kiss, touch, smell, taste, chew, swallow, and to cry out in pain. It provides protection against microbial infections and environmental threats.
The interrelationship between oral and general health is proven by evidence. Severe periodontal disease, for example, is associated with diabetes The strong correlation between several oral diseases and non-communicable chronic diseases is primarily a result of the common risk factors. Many general disease conditions also have oral manifestations that increase the risk of oral disease which, in turn, is a risk factor for a number of general health conditions. This wider meaning of oral health does not diminish the relevance of the two globally leading oral afflictions – dental caries and periodontal diseases. Both can be effectively prevented and controlled through a combination of community, professional and individual action.
What’s the local picture and how do we compare?
- In a survey of people in the Yorkshire & Humber region, Wakefield had significantly more people (25.1% locally compared to 19.7% regionally) who had not visited a dentist in the last two years. This was significance was pronounced in males (30.3% compared to 22.5%) but not females (YHPHO Adult Oral Health Survey, 2008).
- Wakefield also has significantly fewer people in the 45-74 age range (67.0% compared to 73.6%) who have regard their main visits to the dentist as being regular check-ups (YHPHO Adult Oral Health Survey, 2008).
- The oral health in children is measured by mean decayed/missing/filled teeth. Currently, Wakefield is significantly higher to that of the English average (1.10 compared to 0.74), but not different to the regional average (1.10 compared to 1.07) when assessing decayed/missing/filled permanent teeth in 12 year olds (NCHOD, 2008/09).
- The picture is similar when assessing mean decayed/missing/filled deciduous teeth in 5 year olds, with a significantly higher local average of 1.37 compared to the English average of 1.11 (NCHOD, 2007/08).
What’s the trend and what can we predict?
- Currently, we do not have a reliable trend analysis in place for children’s decayed teeth. This is because the national surveys have used different age ranges in different surveys.