New figures released indicate that the number of children in England visiting a dentist for a check-up has declined slightly over the past five years.
The figures published by the NHS Information Centre, showed more than 29 million patients were seen by a NHS dentist in a two-year period ending in June 2011, an increase of one million from 2006. However, over the same period 7.8 million children were seen by a NHS dentist – 26,000 fewer than 2006.
Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, is encouraged by the overall results, but concerned about the lack of growth in the numbers of children visiting a dentist.
‘It is disappointing to see the number of children visiting an NHS dentist has failed to grow over the past five years. Children should be attending the dentist as soon as possible in order for them to develop good pral habits, which they can carry through to adulthood.
‘As part of a wider oral health routine, the Foundation has long championed the benefits of both children and adults visiting the dentist for regular check-ups.
‘The increase in systemic links between poor oral health and conditions detrimental to your overall health continue to be thrust into the public limelight, and it appears on this evidence more adults than ever before are actively engaging in good oral health practices.’
Around 56.3% of the population have received dental care, a figure Dr Carter hopes will improve in order to keep the nation’s oral health to an acceptable standard.
Dr Carter adds: ‘Although the figure still equates to more than every other person in England having access to an NHS dentist, it is the view of the Foundation that more need to be done to break down the barriers for everyone. With rising household budgets it is important that people don’t view their dental health as a luxury – it is one you most certainly cannot afford to take for granted.’