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​Wales winning fight against tooth decay, while England shrugs shoulders

7 July 2017

The British Dental Association (BDA) has welcomed news that child tooth decay has fallen once again among children in poorer communities across Wales - and urged Whitehall to follow the Welsh Assembly Government's example.

A new report from Public Health Wales reveals the proportion of children with decay in Wales fell from 47.6% in 2007-08 to 34.2% in 2015-16, with a 38% fall in the number of children with decayed, missing and filled teeth. Improvements were particularly marked among children in deprived communities, who saw the largest reduction in decay prevalence.

Wales has run the successful national programme 'Designed to Smile' offering targeted support, supervised brushing in schools and nurseries, alongside oral health education and promotion since 2009. England has no equivalent programme.

England has extreme oral health inequalities, with a child born in Blackburn nearly seven times more likely to experience decay than one born in Surrey. The BDA called on all UK parties to follow the lead of devolved governments in the run up to the 2017 General Election. It has also called on the Welsh Government to build on its success by making the scheme compulsory and extending it to nurseries for children under 3 years of age.

BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said:

"Wales is reaping the benefits of a dedicated strategy to drive down childhood decay. In England children have been offered little more than a few soundbites.

"Tooth decay is the leading reason for hospital admissions among children in all parts of Britain. While Ministers in Whitehall are shrugging their shoulders, their opposite numbers in Cardiff Bay are showing just what's possible.

"The Welsh Government must build on the success of this initiative. We hope authorities in England are taking note."

About the BDA

The BDA is the voice of dentists and dental students in the UK. We bring dentists together, support our members through advice and education, and represent their interests.

As a trade union and professional body, we represent all fields of dentistry including general practice, community dental services, the armed forces, hospitals, academia, public health and research.

We are owned and run by our members and all our income is reinvested for the benefit of the profession.

Membership packages reflect the varied needs of dentists.