It seems that not a day goes by without another health professional warning the public of the latest threat to public health caused by alcohol ... but always when drunk in excess...
This is the latest proposal from The Royal College of Surgeons' Dental Journal:
Dentists should screen patients for signs that they drink too much alcohol, researchers have said. Questionnaires could be handed out at the start of consultations to identify those with hazardous drinking levels.
"Alcohol misuse can impact on the oral health of patients attending primary care services in numerous ways.
Excessive alcohol consumption is not only a risk factor for sustaining orofacial injury (either through falls, road traffic accidents or interpersonal violence) but also implicated in the aetiology of potentially fatal oral disease, including cancers of the mouth, larynx, pharynx and oesophagus."
Patients who drink lots also suffer tooth decay and erosion of the tooth surface and alcoholic drinks high in sugar may also contribute to the development of cavities they say.
"After screening, the individuals identified as misusing alcohol could then be offered treatment, including brief motivational advice sessions delivered by hygienists or dental nurses ...
Liaison with the patients' medical practitioner could also result in referral for specialist care should the patient demonstrate alcohol dependence or depression, for example."
All well and good until you listen to Professor Jonathon Shepheard (University of Cardiff, School of Dentistry) claim that
"... an estimated one in five men and one in seven women in the UK regularly binge-drink, which costs the UK economy approximately £25 billion a year ..."
Just where does he get his figures from? Probably the same databank that Andrew Lansley used to mislead the public into thinking that “Last year there were 1.2 million admissions to hospital associated with alcohol.”
And just what does "excessive alchohol consumption" actually mean? Unless they are referring to those recommended daily units so famously plucked from the air by "government scientists".
Plenty of other culprits out there for dental problems ... they could start with soft drink and confectionary manufacturers for a kick-off.
So look out for more probing into your personal life by means of the pre-examination questionnaire at a dental surgery near you soon!