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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:-  15 May 2006

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Brits have a screw loose when it comes to flossing

5 WORST flossing implements used by people in the UK:-

1. Screwdrivers
2. Earrings
3. Needles
4. Keys
5. Paper clips

A survey has revealed that people are risking their oral health by picking their teeth with dangerous household implements!  According to the National Dental Survey, conducted by the British Dental Health Foundation in association with HealthSure, many people simply use whatever is close to hand to remove food trapped between the teeth.

Over 60% of people questioned for the survey admitted to using makeshift items to pick their teeth, with screwdrivers, scissors, needles and knives being among the answers given.  The survey, conducted in the run-up to National Smile Month (May 14 to June 13) also found that a further 23% of people do get food stuck in their teeth, but choose to leave it there, increasing the risk of gum disease and bad breath.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Foundation, commented:- “Clearly people really need to be educated on the importance of flossing.  Flossing is a vital part of a good oral health routine, removing food particles from between the teeth and plaque from against gumline. It should be done once-a-day before brushing.  However it is very important to be gentle, even when using proper dental floss, as jerking or snapping the floss into the gums can damage the gum tissue.  The best thing to dislodge food from between the teeth with is interdental wood sticks, as these are shaped specifically for this purpose. However, cocktail sticks are not and should really be avoided."  He added:- “The idea of someone picking their teeth with a screwdriver may sound amusing for a moment but it is actually a big worry that so many people are happy to use whatever is closest to hand to remove food from between their teeth. A screwdriver is hardly the most flexible of items and I don’t think people realise the damage this could do to their gums!”

As well as screwdrivers, scissors, needles and knives the survey also saw people admit to using keys, paper clips, matchsticks, earrings, nail files, pencils, cards and forks to pick food from between their teeth.

Richard Sear, managing director of national healthcare cash plan provider, HealthSure, who sponsored the survey commented:- “We’re shocked that the survey has revealed that many people are still not aware of how to take basic care of their teeth.  Flossing is a key part of a good oral health routine along with brushing twice-a-day with fluoride toothpaste and cutting down on the frequency of sugary foods and drinks.”

This year’s National Smile Month campaign is using the theme Feed Your Smile to remind people of the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet and maintaining a good oral health routine.


GROUND-BREAKING initiative offers better and faster access to talking therapies.  People suffering from depression will be able to have better access to counselling and talking therapies under a major new programme announced this week by Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

At the moment many people with mild to moderate depression find it difficult to access talking therapies, with services patchily spread across the country. This is despite clinical evidence showing that better access to therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help cure depression and reduce time off work due to ill-health. Patients also prefer to receive talking therapies rather than medication.

The programme, announced this week by Patricia Hewitt in a speech to the National Mental Health Partnership Conference, consists of 2 demonstration sites in Doncaster and Newham, which will be linked to
a regional network of local improvement programmes.

The 2 demonstration sites will bring together key programmes in the NHS, voluntary sector and local employers to test various models that can be implemented nationally.

Announcing the launch of the programme today, Miss Hewitt said:- "Millions of people suffer from mild to moderate mental health problems, and treating them takes up about a 3rd of GPs' time. Too many people are prescribed medication as a quick fix solution, but talking therapies work equally well and patients prefer to receive them.  We know that people in work have better health than those out of work and the Choosing Health White Paper made clear that work matters - it can improve your mental and physical health, reduce health inequalities and improve life chances for people and their families.  I hope that these pilot sites will provide real, tangible evidence of the effectiveness of investing in talking therapies. They will help break the cycle of deprivation, where poor health leads to unemployment and wasted lives as people fail to reach their full potential."

Rethink chief executive Cliff Prior said:- "This could be the beginning of a dramatic advance in mental health.  We know from our members that there is a huge demand for talking therapies. We also know that there is already a strong evidence base to support these types of interventions. We hope that the pilot sites will report quickly and positively so that this initiative can become a full national programme available to everyone who needs it."

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:- "Mind has long been campaigning for a wider choice of therapies, including talking therapies, to be readily available on the NHS for all who need them. We hope that these pilot schemes will be a first step towards making this a reality, and look forward to the scheme's extension to cover the whole population.  We are delighted to finally see delivery of pilot schemes for these urgently needed alternative treatments to medication, now advocated by several NICE guidelines as frontline treatments. Giving people the chance to learn coping strategies and self-management techniques can help reduce the risk of mental health problems returning later on."

Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health chief executive Angela Greatley said:- "People with depression and anxiety have for too long been offered little more than medication. For a significant minority, this is not enough to help them to recover. As a result, many lose their jobs, drop out of education or see their relationships break down. Waiting times for psychological therapies are long, despite the mass of evidence about their benefits for many people. 

This announcement should be the beginning of a new approach that ensures timely access to effective treatment and practical support, with real choices and care close to home."

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