Verdict on new dental stats for five year olds? Could do better!

An oral health charity has urged the Government to focus on prevention of oral health problems following the release of new statistics on children’s dental decay.

The British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) has called for greater emphasis on rewards for prevention in practice and a widened water fluoridation scheme to reduce the ‘wholly preventable’ decay of young teeth.

Though an improved figure of seven in 10 five year olds displaying no decay has been recognised, a new system of collecting data, only with specific parental consent has meant figures cannot be compared to previous statistics.

New data highlights a disparity in dental health across primary care trusts (PCTs) localities and Strategic Health Authority (SHA) areas.

In Middlesbrough, for example, more than half of five year-olds suffered dental decay in at least one tooth, compared to just one in five in East Riding, Yorkshire.

Across SHAs, decay varied from less than a quarter of children in the south east coast region to 40% of five year-olds in the north-east.

Foundation chief executive Nigel Carter said: ‘Dental decay is a wholly preventable problem and though results of the survey appear encouraging there remain simple measures which can be put in place to eliminate these problems.

‘Water fluoridation schemes targeting areas of high decay across the UK could reduce decay at a single stroke. A nationwide Prevention in Practice award scheme, recognised by PCTs, could also make the difference and help level decay experience across the UK.

‘The Department of Health’s Guide to Oral Health guidelines published in 2007 and revised this year set out a sensible format for practices to introduce evidence-based preventive measures but must be accompanied by appropriate funding if they are to be effective.
“The recent government review of NHS dentistry by Professor Jimmy Steele contained greater focus on prevention whilst recommending increased communication between dentists, PCTs and SHAs.

‘We hope a future government of whichever party will retain this focus on better oral health for the nation’s children.’

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