READERS’ LETTERS

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What our readers have been writing about this week.

Sir, – More than two-thirds of UK adults will be making a New Year resolution in 2012. But very few will make oral health their priority despite its importance to all-round good health and success.

An estimated 30 million adults in the UK will be considering making a New Year Resolution for 2012 with many putting improved health as their number one priority. However, despite being fundamental to general well-being, very few people consider improving oral health.

Giving up smoking, drinking less, losing weight, taking more exercise and reducing stress are some of the most popular ‘health’ resolutions and all regularly feature in the ‘Top Ten’ resolutions each year.

However, according to the British Dental Health Foundation, people who make a resolution to adopt a good oral health routine in 2012 will benefit from more than just improved oral health. Adopting good oral health can contribute to avoiding potentially serious health conditions such as diabetes, strokes and heart disease.

It is very surprising that so few people make improved oral health a New Year Resolution. Our research shows that only one in two people are happy with their teeth, with tooth loss and stained or yellow teeth of concern to many.

The smile is also important to many other facets of life. Having the confidence to smile shapes our image and is hugely important to relationships. When it comes to attraction, surveys have shown that a smile is even more important than the face, eyes, dress sense, body shape, hair and height.

More than half of adults in the UK suffer from tooth decay, and around 19 in 20 people will suffer from gum disease at some point in their lives. Both conditions can lead to serious dental problems despite being preventable. However, it is the wider medical conditions that can result from poor oral health that people should be aware of.

There is an increasing body of clinical evidence of the systemic links between poor oral health and some of the biggest causes of serious poor health and death in the UK. Gum disease may contribute to the furring of the arteries which can cause heart disease. People with gum disease are nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes. Even pregnant women who have gum disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is premature and with a low birth weight.

A simple New Year Resolution of adopting a great oral health routine on January 1 can help prevent many of these issues – from bad breath to serious heart disease. To help, there are a number of things we advise.

Brushing for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste first thing in the morning and last thing at night, cutting down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks, and visiting your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.

Additionally, cleaning in between your teeth using interdental brushes or floss will help to form a great routine.

Dr NIGEL CARTER

Chief Executive, British Dental Health Foundation

Remember loved ones lost to cancer

Sir, – World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) is offering your readers the chance to remember loved ones lost to cancer this Christmas with a Candle of Hope pin badge.

The gold brooch symbolically lights the way to a future free from cancer as money raised from its sale funds essential scientific and education cancer prevention programmes.

This Christmas appeal comes at a time when people’s thoughts often turn to departed friends and relatives.

The candle emblem provides a reminder of a loved one as well as hope for the future by helping us raise awareness of cancer prevention. Scientists estimate that by making changes to the food we eat, increasing our amount of physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight about a third of the most common cancers could be prevented.

To support our Candle of Hope appeal and receive your badge, please make a donation at www.wcrf-uk.org/candle or call our team on Freephone 0800 970 1461. – Yours etc.,

TERESA NIGHTINGALE

General Manager, WCRF

Healthy, hearty meals and snacks

Sir, – As a nutritionist, who helps advise people about healthy food choices, I understand that this time of year can be particularly difficult for those who want to maintain a balanced diet while still enjoying Christmas delicacies.

This is why World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has come up with the free Festive Feasts recipe book offering healthy, hearty and wholesome suggestions for meals and snacks. Cream of roast chestnut soup, ‘leftover inspiration’, turkey and cranberry stew and honey-baked parsnips with sweet potatoes and apples are just some of the delicious winter treats.

These nutritious seasonal ideas, which are lower in fat, calories and salt than many other foods available at this time of year, will help get the New Year off to a healthy start while making the Christmas table exciting and varied.

For a free copy of Festive Feasts, with 20 pages of tips and recipes, please call 020 7343 4205 and quote “media”. – Yours etc.,

MAYA MONTEIRO

Nutritionist, WCRF