Prime influencers in the dental profession gathered together at Westminster earlier this month with a view to thrashing out how best to improve the population's health.
Roger Matthews, chief dental officer with Denplan, the company that organised the event, explained: 'It is my firm belief that dentistry can play a far greater role in the prevention and early intervention of chronic diseases and long-term conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
'The evidence of this is growing exponentially and dentists are in the very privileged position to see a large cross section of the population for regular check ups – something GPs simply cannot do.’
He added: ‘This roundtable debate was designed to look at the evidence linking oral and general health as well as ways of getting good oral healthcare messages into the public agenda, look at how practices can get more involved and the benefits for the patients, practices, policymakers and the NHS.’
The roundtable was entitled Prevention and Early Intervention: Realising Dentistry’s potential to meet Britain’s Chronic Disease Challenge and was designed to discuss:
• The value dentistry can add to the early intervention, prevention and public health agenda
• The advantages of an increasingly sophisticated integration of oral and general health promotion
• How dentists are innovating in early intervention and prevention and how to enhance this
• The ‘traffic light’ treatment plan in new dental strategies and broader health triggers
• Views on what more can be achieved and how practically to fulfil that goal.
The guest list for the event included attendees from a wide range of health policy areas, government, think tanks, academia and dental journals, all of whom helped to create a lively debate with many forward-thinking outcomes.
The event, chaired by Financial Times news editor, Sarah Neville, included speakers Duncan Selbie, of Public Health England, Dr Richard Guyver, a practising dentist, Dr Barry Cockcroft, chief dental officer for England, Professor Iain Chapple, professor of periodontology at the University of Birmingham and Dr Charles Alessi, chair of the National Association of Primary Care.