Health August 31, 2018
Improvements needed for children’s oral health says Royal College of Surgeons

By Daniel Male - Accountable Care Journal

More than two in five children (41.4 per cent) aged 0 to 17 did not see an NHS dentist in the 12 months to 30 June 2018, according to new figures published by NHS Digital. This is a very small decrease compared to the same period in the previous year, when 41.8 per cent of children did not visit a dentist.

The data reveals that children aged 0-4 were the least likely group to attend the dentist in the last year.

The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons advises that parents and carers take children to see the dentist as soon as their first teeth appear, and certainly, by the time they turn one. Children should then see a dentist at least once every 12 months so that problems like tooth decay can be picked up early.

Professor Michael Escudier, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, says: "Frankly, it is unacceptable that more than two in five children did not see an NHS dentist in the last year. Today’s figures serve as a reminder that there is still a long way to go in improving children’s oral health in England. Despite free dental care for under 18s and a number of campaigns to educate families about the importance of seeing a dentist at least once a year, progress has been slow."

He adds: "Tooth decay is 90% preventable. If we make sure our children visit the dentist regularly, eat less sugar and brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, we can spare them the trauma of cavities or even worse, tooth extractions.

"There have been some significant steps forward in the last year which we hope will result in more children attending the dentist over the next 12 months. NHS England’s Starting Well programme, which was launched in 13 high needs areas, is a very welcome initiative, which we’d like to see expanded so more children can benefit. We would also urge Government to use some of the money raised by the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to improve oral health education, so that no child is left behind."

Key findings from the NHS Digital report:

The full NHS Dental Statistics for England - 2017-18, Annual Report [PAS] can be viewed here.