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'High level' of bad teeth among athletes at London 2012

Some Olympians' teeth were always going to be threatened by their endeavours at London 2012. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Despite the beaming smiles of gold medal winners at London 2012, a study at last year's Games has found "high levels" of bad teeth among competing athletes.

Using data from 278 athletes from 25 sports, researchers found 55% had tooth decay or cavities, 45% had dental erosion and 76% had gingivitis. More than 40% were "bothered" by their oral health.

The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, concluded: "The oral health of athletes attending the dental clinic of the London 2012 Games was poor with a resulting substantial negative impact on well-being, training and performance."

Campaign to help patients understand NHS entitlements

The Office of Fair Trading has launched a campaign to help patients understand more about their rights when visiting the dentist.

The 'Right to Smile' campaign has been launched to help patients make informed decisions, understand more about their entitlements to NHS treatment.

Judith Frame, OFT Head of Campaigns, said: "This campaign aims to help patients be clearer about what to expect, and more engaged when making decisions about their choice of dentist and treatments."

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Dental patients 'missing out on NHS treatment'

The OFT has estimated that approximately 500,000 patients a year may be told incorrectly that they are not entitled to NHS treatment and are liable to pay private charges for their treatment.

It was also reported that 20% of patients who joined a dental payment plan to pay for private dental treatment felt that they were put under pressure by their dentist to do so.

The OFT survey also found that;

  • 39% reported that NHS prices were not displayed.
  • 56% reported that private charges were not displayed in practices that provide some private dental work.
  • 82% of patients who received treatment which they had to pay for did not receive a written treatment plan.


Why have dentists been examined?

The The Office of Fair Trading launched a study into NHS and private dentistry in September 2011. These issues included:

  • Concerns about the accuracy of pricing and treatment information provided to patients, potentially causing them unnecessary costs.
  • The high number of dentistry complaints reported to Consumer Direct (a consumer feedback service operated by the OFT).
  • Concerns about patients not being able to access dental services directly (such as seeing a dental hygienist), and instead having to access services through their dentist first, incurring additional charges by doing so

Getting NHS dental treatment

The The Office of Fair Trading is advising that if you have an NHS dentist you are entitled to the following;

  • To a wide range of treatment that you need to get your mouth, teeth and gums as healthy and pain free as possible.
  • If your NHS dentist says you need a particular type of treatment, you shouldnt be required to pay for it privately.
  • Private options may be discussed, such as cosmetic alternatives or specialist treatments like dental implants, its your choice whether you take them.
  • Even if your treatment involves a number of visits, you will only pay one charge for each complete course of NHS treatment.
  • Should NHS treatment fail within 12 months, your dentist should repair or redo most treatment free of charge, unless you were advised the treatment was unlikely to be a long-term solution.

Dental patients 'given wrong advice' on NHS entitlements

Half a million patients may be being given the wrong information about NHS entitlements and paying more for private treatment as a result, new research has found.

Many dental patients could be given the wrong advice Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Archive

An OFT study published earlier this year found that while the majority of patients are satisfied with their dentist, they do not always have the information to allow them to make informed decisions about their choice of dentist and treatments.