How self care can help the dental industry

In this exclusive interview with Dentistry, Bas Vorsteveld, the general manager for Great Britain and Ireland for Haleon, discusses dental industry trends and the role self care can play in supporting dental health professionals.

Can you tell us more about Haleon in the UK and its mission in relation to the dental industry?

Absolutely. It’s a really exciting time for Haleon in the UK – this is our home market, and our priority is focused on driving everyday healthcare with humanity and ensuring that healthcare is more inclusive. What this means is that we want to make healthcare more accessible, more achievable, and more sustainable too.

Together with our experts, we work with a lot of dental and other healthcare professionals around the world; we are always trying to find the best solutions for the future.

We always link this back towards our brands to help healthcare professionals provide the right recommendations and inform patients about the positive consequences of a good oral hygiene on their general health.

Too few people realise that a good oral hygiene can have a positive impact on the regulation of blood sugar levels, and on the opposite, inadequate oral hygiene is associated with a variety of serious health issues, such as cardiovascular diseases.

How is Haleon helping dentists to empower patients to deliver better everyday health?

We try to empower our patients in different ways. One of the first things we do is help professionals within dental practices to provide everything they need to recommend the right products to patients and answer any questions, ensuring they can always give the best advice.

With this in mind, we are also actively working with key dental professional bodies across the UK regions to support best clinical practices, for instance, via the British Society of Periodontology.

COVID-19 led to a lot of changes in the industry, with dental professionals increasingly wanting to engage online. With that in mind, we have created the Haleon Health Portal where you can gain access to webinars, online training information, as well as specific information on the latest research and even order product samples.

As a company, we are also focused on sustainability. It’s not only important to have healthy people but also a healthy planet. For example, we have been looking into our packaging materials, using recyclable materials, and are also looking at the way our factories work to reduce our carbon footprint and minimise our impact on the environment.

What do you believe are the key trends in dentistry for the next 12 months?

It’s an interesting question as there’s so much happening in dentistry. I think the first thing that I think of, and what I find worrying, is what’s happening here in the UK in terms of the access to dentistry.

We know that there are currently not enough dentists, which means there’s high pressure on practices to receive patients and to continue to provide NHS access for patients.

It really hits close to my heart when I hear that a million children have never visited the dentist before, and over 50% of children didn’t go to the dentist last year.

This is something we must work on to drive change. We all know it is so critical to drive good oral health hygiene and lifestyle changes, not only to support a healthy mouth but also for overall health. This is an area where we really want to work on together with dental professionals.

We have also seen a lot of developments in digital transformation, and this might be one of the solutions for the issues that practices are facing when it comes to access. Technology in practices and the way it can help consumers is shifting, and it will only continue to develop further.

What are you doing to improve children’s dental health?

We’re reaching out to schools and have a programme educating children on the importance of oral health, the importance of brushing your teeth correctly and eating healthier, and the importance of doing that consistently.

We want to do more together with dental healthcare professionals, through talking to parents and explaining the importance of oral healthcare. With our Shine Bright school project by Aquafresh and our children’s products, we are really focusing on this area by helping both parents and children to understand the importance of oral health and support change in behaviours.

I think there’s still a lot of work for us to do on the future as well. We can’t have children not brushing their teeth everyday – this has an impact in the short term. We are seeing extractions of teeth in children aged between five and nine years old that are completely preventable.

This needs to stop and we need to make an impact and a change in this area. Haleon as a company is really committed to helping on the educational side and ensuring that healthcare is inclusive.

Can you share more about the importance of innovation for the business?

Innovation is critical. We’re very proud of the way we innovate. Haleon is the leader in specialist oral care and we try to work with external experts to figure out what the key needs are and how we can create products that make a difference to consumers.

With our brands, we are always making that connection between deep human understanding of what people need and combining it with the right solutions based on trusted science.

I think when looking at innovations, it is a space where we can really help dental professionals. We can help grow the category and help consumers find the solutions that serve their needs and create an oral healthcare regime. This is what we all need: something that is not only good for today but also for the future. We have our teeth for life and we should really take care of them.

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