As a charity looking to make a positive impact to the wellbeing of people everywhere, lobbying and influencing policy on all matters relating to oral health is essential for us.
We see first-hand the issues that so many people are faced with on a daily basis but are often powerless to do anything about. One of the ways in which our charity can really make a difference is by affecting the direction and decision-making on certain issues, policies or laws so that we can achieve a higher level of care and health.
We spend a great deal of time lending our support and joining forces with like-minded organisations who are petitioning on the behalf of the general public. We raise important issues with MPs, Lords and government agencies by taking your views and experiences to them in order to make a better future for everybody.
Our membership of the Platform for Better Oral Health in Europe puts us in a key position to promote oral health and the cost-effective prevention of oral diseases in Europe. The group seeks a common European approach towards education, prevention and access to better oral health in Europe. What’s more, our CEO, , is now the Chairman of that group, putting Oral Health Foundation at the forefront of a European-wide recognition of the importance of oral health.
One of the major challenges we have faced over recent years has been to tackle the growth of added sugars. Given the damage we have seen first-hand that an excess of added sugars can do, we are heavily supportive of the guidelines laid out by Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), recommending added sugars make up no more than 5% of a person’s daily intake.
This led us to take a front seat role around the campaign for the sugar tax on fizzy drinks, as well as campaign for low-in-sugar foods and drinks in hospitals and schools. We have also been advising on more easily-identifiable and correct labelling on foods and drinks, in addition to looking at improved care policies for the elderly in care homes and people suffering with dementia.
Another significant challenge we have taken on is to address the damage done by smoking. Tobacco is the leading global cause of preventable death and has a significant impact on oral health. Consequences to the mouth from smoking range from problems such as and tooth staining, to more serious conditions like tooth loss and . Smoking is also the leading cause of .
We have been delighted to have worked on campaigns in the United Kingdom to ban smoking in public places, issue plain packaging on cigarettes and more recently to ban smoking in cars with children. All of these policies have been introduced and it is something we are looking to work on in other countries too.
Much of our work in the last 12 months has once again focussed on smoking and more recently, e-cigarette legislation, while we have also been working to achieve minimum alcohol pricing.
We will be excited to see the new NHS dental contract come into force in the next year or two. This will have a high focus on preventive care, a policy that we have been committed to driving forward since the formation of the charity over 40 years ago.
We continue to be an active member of HPV Action and over the last year have been lobbying to introduce a gender-neutral vaccination for boys. Now, thanks in part to our campaigning through HPV Action, boys aged 12 to 13 in England will receive the HPV vaccine from September 2019. HPV is responsible for around 5% of world cancers, including cervical, penile, anal and genital cancers and some cancers of the head and neck – all of which the vaccine should help to protect against. All in all it is estimated that the vaccine will prevent around 2,000 cases of cancer in men each year caused by HPV infection. The vaccination should also prevent over 40,000 cases of genital warts in men each year.
The issues that matter to you
If there are any oral health issues that close to your heart, we want to hear from you.
Maybe it’s something that has affected you personally, or perhaps a close family member or friend. Did you feel the right support was received or whether the correct system was in place to help?