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Prisoners need oral cancer advice

According to the Department of Health, the amount of untreated dental disease amongst the prison population is roughly four times greater than the level found in the general population coming from a similar background.

The prisoner profile is a familiar one across the UK; predominantly young men from deprived backgrounds with low literacy and educational ability, often with a history of drug-taking and alcohol abuse, poor nutrition and regular smoking.

As part of Mouth Cancer Action Month, organisers at the British Dental Health Foundation are making people aware of the risk factors. Given these are tobacco use, drinking alcohol to excess, poor diet, smokeless tobacco and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), transmitted via oral sex and coupled with their lack of awareness, the prison population are a particularly high risk group.

 Dr Judith Husband, GDP at Bullingdon Prison in Oxfordshire, discussed some of the problems facing the inmates.

 Dr Husband said: ‘Unfortunately, the demographic of inmates means their lifestyles have placed them in a high risk group. Awareness of the disease is exceptionally low and there’s no understanding of the lifestyle risks associated with mouth cancer. Around 80-85% of the prison population smokes, and we have a much higher number of people who have alcohol problems.

 ‘Research has proved these two risk factors combined increases the chances of developing mouth cancer by up to 30 times. Our challenge is to educate the inmates, make sure they know the risk factors, make sure they know the signs and symptoms and most importantly to make sure they come to the dental clinic if they are concerned about something.

 ‘We are trying to get the message across that it is important not just to visit the dentist when you are in pain. In the case of mouth cancer, catching it early could save your life. I’ve referred a number  of suspicious lesions in guys who fit the traditional age demographic, but I have seen an increasing number of men who are between 25 and 30 present with suspicious lesions, too.

 ‘In the prison environment, it is crucial to communicate with the inmates. When they come for a full check-up I make a point of telling them I’ll be checking for mouth cancer. We have posters up in the clinic from previous Mouth Cancer Action Month campaigns which gets them talking.’

 Although there have been some major improvements in the integration of preventive care, Dr Husband still believes more can be done to help the prison population.

 ‘People aren’t dwelling on oral health issues as much as they were 12 years ago. We have seen a higher number of inmates get into the “action” stage and come for a check-up. But it isn’t all good news. Waiting times for the clinic are longer than ever, resources are stretched and part-time initiatives that made a difference are being shelved.

‘That makes campaigns such as Mouth Cancer Action Month as important as ever. We must continue to raise awareness of the disease to as many people as possible, particularly those at risk.’

Of these, 375 FTE were professors, senior lecturers and Lecturers, and 172 FTE were senior Clinical Teachers and Clinical Teachers. This reflects a 1% increase in total clinical academic staffing since 2010, making a fourth consecutive year of increase in clinical academic staffing levels. Numbers are now at their highest since the first survey in 2000, representing a 15% increase in 10 years.

There has been an encouraging rise in the number of lecturers in post to 142 FTE, since a low of 121 FTE in 2006. This is indicative of the positive effect of sustained investment into clinical academic pathways by the NIHR, BIS, the Higher Education Funding Councils and research funders.

Other key findings of the Dental Schools Council survey as at 31 July 2011 are:

• Women make up 37% of the clinical academic team, compared with 32% in 2004; 16% of professors are women, compared with 11% in 2004

• Funding for clinical academic posts remains steady at 76% from the Higher Education Funding Councils, 18% from the NHS and 6% from other sources.

• The profile of clinical academic dentists at early career grades is more ethnically diverse than those of later grades

• The dental clinical academic team includes a higher proportion of dentists in the 36–55 age groups than younger newly qualified dentists, including 59% of professors, senior lecturers and lecturers, compared with 51% in 2004.

Professor Paul Speight, chair of the Dental Schools Council, said ‘Clinical academic dentistry offers a career which combines the innovations of research with the practical groundings of teaching, and so is one of the most rewarding careers in the dental profession.

‘Encouraging individuals to have this dual experience in their work is essential to ensuring the high quality of research and teaching in UK dentistry, as each aspect very much compliments the other. We are especially pleased with the four-year increase in overall clinical academic staffing numbers, which shows that clinical academic dentistry is being recognised as an attractive and fulfilling career for those across all demographics and backgrounds.’

With a total of 1675 applications, this equates to 12 per every available place for medicine and 10 for dentistry; this includes around 14 and 16 applications per place respectively from prospective international students.

The figures are based on applications received through UCAS by the 15 October 2012. The new medical and dental school has 80 medical places (plus six international) and 64 for dentistry.

Building on the successful legacy of the former Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, last year PCMD received a ratio of fewer than eight applications per place for medicine and just under seven for dentistry.

The new schools were formed this year following the disaggregation of PCMD.

New dean, and former vice dean of PCMD, Professor Rob Sneyd said: ‘The past year has been about winning hearts and minds in addressing concerns over the viability of having two medical and medical/dental schools in the region, especially Plymouth as the smaller of the two. This is something we have never been in any doubt about, but I’m delighted that the application figures can now speak for themselves, especially given the first year was always going to be the most challenging one.’

Professor Wendy Purcell, vice-chancellor of Plymouth University added: ‘These application figures are testament to the excellence of our medical and dental schools’ unrivalled offer. We have an amazing team of world-class researchers, clinicians and academics who are dedicated to delivering a first class student experience and training doctors and dentists who are highly skilled and connected to their community. Our students are out there working with patients from day one, be it offering free dental care to over 5,000 local people per week or getting exclusive hands-on experience at Derriford Hospital, the region’s premier trauma centre – there is no better training ground and clearly this is being recognised by prospective students.’

Dream Makeover Essex is a competition offering four people each the chance to win fabulous top-to-toe restyling worth up to £25,000 and realise their dreams for perfect eyesight, a perfect smile, great grooming and style.

It’s the brainchild of celebrity dentist, Ash Parmar, who owns Smile Design by Ash in Chigwell, Essex, and appears on TV’s Extreme Makeover UK and The Only Way is Essex, and refractive surgeon, C T Pillai, from Advance Vision Care, a corrective eye surgery clinic that’s based in London’s Harley Street.
Ash said: ‘The lucky winners will be one man and one woman from two age groups of 20-40 and 41-65. I have experienced how dream makeover can change people’s lives, increase confidence and self-esteem and give a new lease of life.’

The pair have now put together a team of professionals who have the skill and expertise to carry out the makeovers.

Treatments will include laser eye correction, cosmetic dentistry, facial aesthetics, personal training, beauty therapy and hair grooming,  a new wardrobe and style advice, plus Zoom! teeth whitening and a Philips sonic toothbrush – thanks to support from the competition sponsor, Philips Oral Healthcare.

As well as awarding four winners, everyone who enters the competition will receive a book of vouchers, valued at £650, to be used with the team of professionals creating the winners’ dream makeovers.

Judging will be carried out by top professionals in their field who will assess the photos and stories of each entrant to find the people who will benefit most from a restyle.

While the winners do not necessarily have to come from Essex, they will need to be able to get to the team of makeover experts, most of whom are based in the area.  

Those keen to undergo a revamp can enter the competition by visiting Entries close on 30 November.

Follow the links on Facebook and also on Twitter @dreamessex.

The makeovers will be revealed at a gala event to be held in March next year.

Young dentists are calling for support for their demand for the government to guarantee all graduates from UK dental schools a Dental Foundation Training (DFT) place.

The demand comes in the British Dental Association’s (BDA’s) newly published YDC Asks, a mini-manifesto for young dentists developed by the organisation’s Young Dentists Committee (YDC).

The committee is asking those who support it to sign a Government e-petition founded by YDC Chair Dr Martin Nimmo. The petition argues that the failure to allocate DFT places to UK graduates both wastes taxpayers’ money invested in their training, because denying each individual a DFT place means that they are prevented from providing NHS care, and is unfair to the graduates who taken on significant amounts of debt in order to complete their studies.

The launch of the petition follows a recent admission by the Department of Health (DH) that 35 UK graduates from the 2011 cohort have not been allocated DFT places. Each graduate, DH acknowledged, will have cost the public purse approximately £150,000 to train.

Dr Martin Nimmo, chair of the BDA’s Young Dentists Committee, said: ‘It is perverse that students who have strived hard to pursue a career in NHS care are being denied the training places they need to fulfil that ambition. This is a significant waste of taxpayers’ money, and a tragedy for the graduates who have taken on large amounts of debt in pursuing their vocation. Given that there are some areas of the UK where patients who wish to access NHS care cannot do so, it is also nonsensical.

 ‘I urge all current and potential members of the profession, and taxpayers, to join young dentists in calling for a guarantee that this farcical situation will never be allowed to happen again.’

YDC Asks also expresses concerns that robust data should be used in workforce planning, that barriers to young dentists becoming practice owners are mounting and that careers in dental academia and specialist training must remain viable options for young dentists.

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