Dentists: English authorities resting on laurels in face of decay epidemic
6 April 2018
Dentists have blasted government efforts as woefully inadequate as new data from Public Health England shows the total number of children facing tooth extractions under general anaesthetic continues to grow.
Despite being almost entirely preventable, tooth decay remains the leading cause of hospital admissions for children aged 5-9. The number of extractions is continuing to increase in line with England's population.
Recent Parliamentary Questions by Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth have revealed children have yet to see any benefit from the government's centrepiece policy Starting Well. Aimed at improving oral health outcomes for 'high risk' children, the scheme has no new funding attached, and is currently operating in parts of just 13 local authorities in England.
The BDA has categorised the response from authorities in England as 'second rate' and called for a national effort capable of delivering transformative improvements in children's oral health. The Scottish initiative Childsmile, has already reduced the bill for dental treatment costs by £5 million a year. The Welsh equivalent Designed to Smile has secured a record breaking 12 point fall in decay since 2007.
England has historically enjoyed better oral health levels than devolved nations, and dentist leaders have accused government of complacency in the face of a decay epidemic and persisting, unacceptable inequalities between children from affluent and deprived backgrounds.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, the British Dental Association's chair of General Dental Practice said:
"In the face of a tooth decay epidemic the official response remains woefully inadequate.
"While devolved governments have rolled up their sleeves, authorities in England have chosen to rest on their laurels. The result is an oral health gap that shows no signs of closing.
"To date not a single child has seen any benefit from the government's unfunded and unambitious plans to act on decay. These figures underline the need for concerted national action."
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