Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation Dr Carter believes that more dental health information should be available to those who suffer sight difficulties after participants of the study claimed not enough is being done to cater for their disability.
Over half of the sample group complained that there is inadequate information concerning dental care available to them in the platforms they are able to access.
Dr Carter believes that oral health educators everywhere need to be more aware of visually impaired audiences and adjust the formats of their information so that it is accessible for everyone.
Dr Carter said: “Around two million people in the UK suffer from a range of visual impairment, from low vision to complete blindness. We need to make sure these people get the support they need.
The latest study, conducted in a low vision aid clinic at Moorfields Hospital in London, examined 100 patients who were visually impaired.
Each participant undertook a visual oral check, where every tooth was assessed and recorded alongside the levels of plaque and calculus in the mouth.
Despite the results, which showed the group to have equal oral health levels to that of adults tested in the Adult Dental Health Survey 1998, the visually impaired were less likely to attend for dental check–ups and more likely to only visit the dentist when in pain.
Dr Carter added: “To discover that twice as many people with sight problems only visit the dentist when they are in pain is very worrying indeed and highlights a severe gap in dental information to this vulnerable group – this is something that needs to change.
“Visiting your dentist regularly is vital in maintaining a good oral health routine. If you don’t have a dentist then you are far more likely to suffer from oral health–related diseases.
“Poor dental health may not have a proven link to a loss of vision but it has the potential to bring on diabetes, heart and lung disease, premature and low–weight babies and increases your chance of having a stroke.
“It is vital we increase the numbers of those registered to a dentist and going for regular check–ups and the only way we can do that is to educate people of the dangers of not visiting regularly.
“The majority of people with sight difficulties need a magnifier to read, while others rely on audio tapes. We have set out a strategy to fill this audience gap which currently exists within dentistry. Our new website, which is in construction and scheduled to launch this August, will provide low vision audiences with magnified typefaces. We have also installed an audio capability to our dental health leaflets so that the public are able to listen to the educational resources we provide.”
The British Dental Health Foundation’s new website will work in conjuncture will the Foundation’s other services, such as their series of ‘Tell Me About…’ leaflets, which cover topics such as tooth care, gum disease, children’s teeth and diet, amongst others which are available via the charity’s online shop.
The National Dental Helpline on 0845 063 1188 also helps in providing information to the public, giving out free advice on oral health care. The helpline, staffed by qualified oral health educators, receives thousands of calls year–on–year on a range of dental health issues.
Kate Watson, specialist in Special Care Dentistry, from University College London, headed up the research from the Eastman Dental Institute.
The results were published in the April edition of the British Dental Journal.
For further information please contact the Foundation’s Press Office on 01788 539792 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of the public can contact the Dental Helpline for free and impartial expert advice on 0845 063 1188, Monday to Friday, or by emailing email@example.com.
An abstract of the research, entitled ‘The oral health status of adults with a visual impairment, their dental care and oral health information needs’ is available at http://bit.ly/9uJdfi
The Foundation’s website can be found at www.dentalhealth.org.
The British Dental Health Foundation is an independent charity dedicated to improving the public’s oral health practice. It raises awareness of key issues such as mouth cancer through its annual Mouth Cancer Action Month campaign, and in alliance with its global arm, the International Dental Health Foundation, it runs the educational National Smile Month campaign. The Foundation provides free, impartial dental advice to inform and influence the public, the profession and the Government.