Dentists' warning over child tooth decay

The Guardian writes that tooth decay is the most common reason that children between 5-9 years old need hospital treatment. According to the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), figures for England show twice as many children under the age of 10 received hospital treatment for tooth decay as those treated for broken arms in the year to March. The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the RCS says tooth decay is preventable in 90% of cases, but with many parents unaware that NHS dental care is free for under-18s not all children are being taken to the dentist.   

The British Dental Association (BDA) is calling for a coherent national strategy to tackle the problem. They’ve highlighted oral health schemes for children in Wales and Scotland, but note the lack of action in England. 

Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, the BDA’s chair of general dental practice, said: “These shocking statistics are rooted in an abject failure by government to tackle a preventable disease.

“While we are hearing positive noises, ministers have not met words with action. Scotland and Wales have dedicated national programmes to improve children’s oral health, England has been offered a new logo and limited action in a handful of council wards.

“It’s a scandal that when some local authorities are doing sterling work, others are sitting on their hands while Westminster offers radio silence.”

Professor Michael Escudier, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery, said: “Sometimes this can be unavoidable, but when it comes to admissions caused by tooth decay, most cases are a result of simple preventative steps not being taken.

“Tens of thousands of children every year are having to go through the distressing experience of having teeth removed under general anaesthetic. Reducing sugar consumption, regularly brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste and routine dental visits will all help ensure this is avoided.”

The full story can be read on the Guardian website