Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has launched an event demonstrating the link between oral health and general health.
The Oral Health Matters event, which took place at Parliament Buildings today (Thursday), was on behalf of the British Dental Association NI, and was backed by the Children’s Commissioner and Older People’s Commissioner. South Belfast MLA Ms Bradshaw said despite some improvements, Northern Ireland had the worst oral health in the UK.
“This has a detrimental impact on general levels of health and well-being, with only 19 per cent of under-15s having good oral health and screening in care homes proving difficult. That shows the challenges with exist across all age groups.
“Action needs to be taken urgently to address issues, ranging from the sugar epidemic to gaps in dental provision. We also need to ensure this is not treated as some kind of optional extra – gum disease alone can be linked to diabetes, heart disease, dementia and arthritis.
“The Department of Health needs to take a lead on this, engaging with healthcare professionals to ensure there is adequate investment to fill the gaps and recognise the need for preventative action, entirely in line with the Bengoa proposals.
“I commend the British Dental Association NI on making these issues so prominent and on bringing so many people from so many sectors together to address them. There are significant challenges ahead but we must work to meet them immediately.”