Austin Powers jokes aside, dental hygiene is reportedly a very big problem in the UK. In a recent letter to The Daily Telegraph, British dentists warned that their nation’s oral health was on its way to becoming an international disgrace, calling it a “national health disaster.”
The root of the problem does not seem to be simply individual poor oral hygiene. National health service issues also appear to play a major role. The letter states that unreasonable targets and unnecessary red tape regulations have made it increasingly difficult for many dentists to provide the public with the care they need.
In the UK, health services are provided through an agency known as the National Health Service (NHS). This organization uses national taxes to cover the cost of healthcare for everyone in the UK, regardless of who they are and how much they earn. The system has struggled to keep up with the massive supply and demand, The Guardian reported. As a result, some individuals may fall through the cracks and not receive the care and treatment they require.
Last year, The Guardian reported that twice as many children in England received hospital treatment for tooth decay as those who needed to be treated for broken arms. Although high sugar diets likely do not help the problem, lack of proper intervention allows the decay to progress dangerously. Nearly four out of five children in England between one and two years old had not seen an NHS dentist in the past year, The Guardian reported.
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This is not the first time that UK dentists have spoken out about the state of the system they currently work in. In 2016, dentists penned another letter to The Daily Telegraph likening UK dental health to that of a developing country.
Reportedly, the dental healthcare in the UK is so bad that they are enlisting help from international organizations. For example, last year Dentaid, a charity that normally helps to care for people’s teeth in the developing countries, set up clinics in the UK specifically addressed to help low-income families, homeless people, and migrants who were especially in need of dental care, The Independent reported.
The clinics have helped a number of people who have struggled to get an appointment with an NHS dentist. However, these charities can only do so much. Dentists are now insisting that a bigger solution is needed to address the national dental problem.