Dental Health Awareness is Crucial — United Kingdom

The USA is not the only nation whose military leaders are concerned about the problem described in the previous post. As one typical example, the French Military Health Service reported that dental emergencies accounted for 24.2% of all medical evacuations during an operation in Mali.

Childhood Obesity News has previously discussed dental health in the United Kingdom, but not in relation to military readiness, and the situation only worsens over time. As of a 2018 report, during the pertinent year more than 26,000 children ages five to nine were treated in hospitals because of rotten teeth. Note: These were only 5- to 9-year-olds.

The United Kingdom Armed Forces, just like their American counterparts, take dental health very seriously. A report on defense dentistry notes that “the impact of oral disease on service personnel serving on operations has been well documented and can substantially disrupt operational capability.” The authors back up this assertion with six footnotes, and many more references would no doubt be available, had they chosen to cite them also.

The U.K. has developed a preventive-focused, holistic program that addresses alcohol, tobacco, diet, and weight management. Of course, obesity and dental disease often coexist in the same individuals, and just like the U.S., Britain’s realm is eminently interested in sustaining operational capability and maximizing effectiveness.

This means minimizing dental morbidity. The details state that clinical decision-making is…

[…] focused on the patient’s occupational role and the environment in which they will operate. Considers factors such as the duration, remoteness and austerity of the deployment. A responsive uniformed dental workforce with strong individual and collective leadership ethos […] can move assets between locations and adapt quickly to rapidly changing situations in both UK and overseas bases and in operational environments.

The officers in charge have to consider what conditions the patient will be living in, and whether they will be able to keep up correct oral hygiene, and/or aftercare appropriate to any dental work that has been done. If an emergency flared up, how long would the service member be away from their post to receive the needed care, and who would fill their role in the military operation? How would they be transported, and what would be the risks to both the patient and the mission? What effect would any prescribed medications have on the patient’s ability to function effectively?

The relevance of dental problems, of course, is that they so often coexist with obesity, creating a two-faceted health dilemma for large numbers of both civilian and military personnel.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Britain’s sugar obsession sees number of children going to hospital with rotten teeth rise to 26,000,”, 09/25/18
Source: “Defence dentistry: an occupationally focused health service with worldwide deployable capability,”, 2021
Image by NATO/CC BY-SA 2.0

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Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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