Plan to make pre-school trip to dentist law in US gets UK charity’s approval

A controversial US bill requiring all children to have a dental exam before starting school, would be welcome here in the UK by the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF).

There has been an outcry by some educationalists in the States – and mixed reactions by dental experts – over plans to introduce a dental examination of all three-to-six year old starting school.

The proposed exam would be carried out by a dentist or dental hygienist and the records then submitted to the school before they are allowed to begin their education.

If the bill is passed, this would be added to the list of requirements students must meet in order to enter and stay in school that includes a vision exam, a hearing test, a scoliosis screening, two physicals and several vaccinations.

But those opposing the plan argue that although vision and hearing can impact learning, there’s little connection between dental screening and its effect on school performance.

Here, in the UK however, Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the BDHF, would welcome a move to make a pre-school trip to the dentist compulsory.

He said: ‘The Foundation would fully support the introduction of a similar scheme in the UK to ensure that parents take their child to see a dentist as soon as possible.

‘Encouraging children to visit the dentist from a young age is vital and this bill will really help to hammer the message home in the US.

‘In the UK, many parents fail to take their children to the dentist because of the perceived problem with access.

‘However, most would find that if they contacted their local Primary Care Trust and NHS Direct then they would have no problem finding a dentist to see their child,’ he added.

The legislative session in the US ends tomorrow (15 April).

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