Thursday, 27 July 2017

3M Rising Stars: Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka's

If you follow my Instagram, you may have seen my trip to Germany with 3M a few weeks ago....but what was I doing there?

The group invited to Seefelt
3M (no longer 3M ESPE) kindly invited me to their research and development site in Seefelt along with several other inspiring dentists. A chance to sample the Bavarian culture as well as see the insides of where the dental products I use are made!

It felt well and truly like being able to see the inside of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory and I was humbled to be invited alongside some pretty well known names in dentistry. I also learnt that 3M not only make dental and orthodontic products but post-it notes, adhesive tape and even the glue that holds planes together. 

After a rocky plane journey from London, we landed in Munich greeted by the the UKs 3M staff: John, Gavin and Amy. Although we only spent 2 days with each other, by the time it we had to journey back to the UK, I felt like I'd known the others for much longer and it was a fantastic way to get to know other dentists throughout the UK. 

Proudly showing off my visitor's pass
The first day we learnt about some of the post popular 3M dental products like Impregum, RelyX and Scotchbond and of course have a little play. One of my favourites was the new heavy VPS impression material Imprint which sets much quicker has it gives off heat during setting. All of us then of course had to take a blob in our hands and feel it get hot as it set. 

In the afternoon we had a fantastic time designing our ideal resin cement and the packaging along with it! Everyone gave it 120% and I think some of the groups came up with cutting edge innovations (see our box below where our cement is a universal shade that adapts to it's environment.....hence the name) and some impressive shelf lives (5, 10, 15+!!). 

My groups innovation new resin cement... and yes that is a chameleon not a fish. 
During the 2 days we also had the chance to have a guided tour around the labs which was very exciting. We weren't allowed to take any pictures of course but memorable bits including seeing the huge vats of impression materials being mixed (honestly the size of a smart car) and the conveyor belt of robots loading up the local anaesthetic cartridges. We also got to product test some of the new materials coming out soon from 3M and meet the inventors of some of their big-sellers (like Filtek Bulkfill). 

Not only were there educational activities, but we had a delicious traditional Bavarian meal (with Bavarian beer of course) alongside the lake Stamberger See where we had the most beautiful view of the sunset that I spammed all over my Instagram. 

The view of the lake while we were having dinner. 

I'd like to thank all of the 3M team for their hospitality and organising this fun and educational trip - it was great to meet everyone. I'd definitely recommend the trip if you get the chance!

Do you use any 3M products? Or been to Seefelt in person? Let me know in the comments below. 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Public Health Matters: Mayor's Newham Town Show 2017

Last weekend was the annual Mayor's Newham Town Show in East London and time for the local Community Dental Service to get involved...

This post can also be found in the BDJ team magazine

Just some of the fantastic team who helped out over the weekend!

The weekend saw over 50,000 people attending and involved live music over 2 stages, dancing, sports and a real sandy beach! There were lots of stands set-up and the at the public health area we had the company of Healthy Eating, Cancer Research, Smoking Cessation and more alongside our dental stand. 

Over the weekend we had a total of 3, 478 contacts at our oral health stand; teaching children and parents about oral hygiene, dental-specific diet advice and going to the dentist. The team included our oral health promoters, therapists, dental nurses and dentists and everyone had lots of fun. It was incredible to see such genuine interest from the public and eager children filling in our quizzes and word-searches or brushing our set of giant teeth in order to win a toothbrush holder or tooth fairy wand!

As well as our oral health stand, we were able to provide oral health screening on our mobile dental unit. Over the 2 days we saw 485 adults and children for oral health screens; many of whom required signposting to dentists as they required treatment. With live music blasting in the background and copious amounts of free toothbrushes and toothpaste to give out, there was a lively and festival-like atmosphere inside the unit that helped to acclimatise some of the more nervous or younger children into learning how a visit to the dentist can be fun!

Me inside the dental unit providing some dental screens (consent for publishing photographs obtained)

I found it very surprising to see how many people either didn't have their own dentist or had no idea how the NHS dental services work. There were many people who had very healthy mouths, indeed I haven't seen so many cooperative children in a long time; however, there were a few shockers. For example I saw a 3 year old who had around 8 carious teeth and had not ever been to the dentist. It was important for the dental team to direct people onto where they could access care and of course explain how screening did not replace a full dental assessment with x rays. Lists of dentists in the local area were given out as well as information about dental charges and exemptions. 

We were very lucky that the weekend's weather matched our moods and we had lovely sunshine for the 2 days and certainly I went home on the Sunday evening with a warm sense of fulfilment after such a philanthropic effort from all the team. I think getting the dental profession more involved in public events like this is essential at tackling our public health issues head on and can be really effective with passionate individuals and the appropriate support from NHS services and dental charities such as the Dental Wellness Trust, Oral Health Foundation etc.  

Many thanks to all the team at Newham Community Dental Services and bring on next year's event! Check out the highlights video from the show:

Did you attend the Town Show? Or run similar events in your area? Let me know in the comments below. 

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Management of Mental Health and Homelessness in Dentistry

Managing these vulnerable patients has been a devotion of mine since I worked in an acute dental setting in secondary care last year. I thought I'd share with you the reasons why...

Why are mental health and homelessness relevant to dentistry?

  • We often encounter forms of mental illnesses in dentistry e.g. anxiety and depression. This can commonly be in the form of dental phobias. One study reports 78% of general dental practitioners encountered patients with diagnosed mental health issues.
  • Patients who suffer from mental illnesses or who are homeless suffer a greater burden of disease. In a community-based psychiatric clinic for example, 52% of patients were suffering from dental pain and of the homeless patients attending a dental clinic in East London; 40% presented in pain.
  • There is a high prevalence of mental health issues in the homeless population: 25-30% according to Crisis.
  • Depending on the dental setting, some settings will see high levels of these patients attending e.g. community dental services, acute services.
  • Mental health issues are still stigmatised and can go undiagnosed and untreated. Not only in patients but also within the profession.

What problems can arise when seeing these patients?

  • Their general management and interactions can be difficult
  • Attendance can be sporadic
  • Consent can be an issue e.g. capacity with mental health issues or if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Communication can be difficult in those with severe mental health issues or indeed in patients where English is not their first language
  • There can be extensive dental neglect in these patients e.g. I see a lot of homeless patients who are on methadone
  • Patients medical histories can be unclear or complex e.g. clotting issues in alcoholics
  • Motivating patients to stabilise their oral health can be difficult or even impossible. Often their priority is not their teeth!
  • Access to care is a huge issue
  • An issue many of the staff encountered at the acute dental setting I worked at last year was patients threatening suicide. I am planning a post in the near future about this so keep an eye out!

How can we improve the care we provide for these patients?

  • Educate the profession in the management of patients with mental illnesses so we learnt not to stigmatise them
  • Forge close links within the dental profession and other health professionals in order to liaise easily and link up care e.g. CDS, GDPs, GP, homeless charities, psychiatrists
  • Make access to care as easy as possible e.g. self-referrals, free care for those who are homeless
  • Further research is needed to help us understand how many of these patients access dental care and what barriers they encounter

To read a talk I presented at a local meeting regarding some research into how many of these patients access care, click here

Do you see these patients in practice? Let me know in the comments below. 
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