19 Jan 2016

With the New Year well and truly underway, what lies ahead for dentistry in the coming year? In a year which promises to shake up the future of the nation's oral health for years to come leading oral health charity the British Dental Health Foundation has taken a look at what it believes will be some of the defining issues of dentistry in 2016.

1. A sugar tax will change lives

In February the UK Government is due to unveil their obesity strategy to finally address the state of the nation's sugar addiction. With nearly half of 8 year olds having visible signs of decay on their teeth we have long campaigned for a sugar tax to help stop the spread of a completely preventable problem.

David Cameron has acknowledged the issue himself saying "I don't really want to put new taxes on anything but we do have to recognise that we face something of an obesity crisis."

The government has previous shied away from a so called ‘sugar-tax' but with recent reports that they could be changing their minds after the overwhelming success of the ‘bag-tax' it remains to be seen if they will make a key decision which could improve the dental health, and overall health, far beyond 2016 and for generations to come.

2. Mouth cancer action is needed

Towards the end of last year the government announced that all men that have sex with men up to the age of 45 will be able to receive the HPV vaccination in what was a positive move in the fight against mouth cancer.

But it does not nearly go far enough in helping to save thousands of lives. A decision on truly gender neutral vaccinations is due to be made in 2017 at the earliest, by which time hundreds of thousands of boys will be left unprotected against HPV-related diseases.

With Cancer Research UK also reporting mouth cancer rates raising to an all-time high, increasing by a third in the last decade alone, something needs to be done urgently to address this alarming trend. November is Mouth Cancer Action Month and this year the campaign will be bigger and more impactful than ever.

3. Happy birthday National Smile Month

One of the cornerstones of the UK dental health reaches a momentous milestone this year as National Smile Month celebrates its 40th birthday. Over the past four decades the campaign has reached millions of people worldwide with important dental health messages.

National Smile Month is a well-established global brand which continues to act as a spearhead for providing organised grassroots activities such as fun days, talks, sponsored events, roadshows, displays, open sessions and competitions - all which have the ultimate goal of engaging people in the importance of oral health.

This year's campaign kicks off on 16 May and we are excited to see what everyone is planning to make their National Smile Month bigger than ever.

4. Tooth whitening: The industry fights back

Recent times have seen dramatic shifts in views on tooth whitening. The industry is worth billions of pounds globally and is no longer viewed by many as a luxury but a must have as people try to emulate their role models dazzling smiles.

Professionally carried out tooth whitening is usually very effective and safe but alongside the legal growth in the industry a dark side to tooth whitening has appeared, that of the illegal tooth whiteners. They are offering treatments with minimal training and no protection for patients, this can lead to extremely dangerous results and costly, painful and time consuming procedures to correct.

The General Dental Council is taking action against illegal tooth whitening and last year they prosecuted more non dental providers than ever before. In 2016 the GDC and many other dental health organisations will be working harder than ever with an emphasis on keeping everyone safe.

The Tooth Whitening Information Group (TWIG) is working towards a safe and effective tooth whitening solution in the best interests of the public.

We would be interested to hear what you think will be the key issues in dentistry in the coming year; please send your comments through to [email protected].