MPs and Ministers discussed Britain’s child tooth decay crisis and ways to tackle the epidemic.
The debate on 3 February involved Sir Paul Beresford MP, a practising dentist and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on dentistry and oral health, who explained that dental decay is the number one reason children aged five to nine are admitted to hospital.
‘Dentists feel that their small branch of general health is seen as a “Cinderella” service and a sideline within the national health service,’ Sir Paul Beresford MP said.
‘Increasingly, the biggest problem they face is child dental health in the form of caries.
‘This disease is almost entirely preventable, but it is not being prevented.
‘As the Minister is aware, the biggest single factor in dental caries is sugar.
‘The raw statistics on child dental health are pitiful.
‘Deciduous teeth, or baby teeth, are particularly susceptible to decay as they have thinner enamel compared with permanent dentition, and this obviously contributes to children having dental decay.
‘Dental decay is the number one reason for children aged five to nine being admitted to hospital in the United Kingdom.’
Child tooth decay
The British Dental Association (BDA) has welcomed this debate among parliamentarians on solving the crisis of child tooth decay.
In the debate Sir Paul Beresford explained that he does not think a sugar tax would ‘make one iota of difference’ pointing to ‘the kids pushing the mothers for sweets’ in supermarkets.
‘Our thanks go to Sir Paul for focusing Parliament’s attention on an epidemic of tooth decay,’ BDA chair, Mick Armstrong said.
‘A preventable disease is now the leading cause of hospital admissions among the nation’s children.
‘This is one debate MPs from all parties must not shrink from.’
Health Minister, Alistair Burt MP, noted the impact of caries on children’s overall health, as well as their ability to sleep, eat, speak, play and socialise.
He stressed the key role dentists play in tackling the issue and reiterated the Government’s position on reforming the current contract for primary care dentistry to focus on prevention.
‘Dental decay and gum disease, can be almost eliminated by the combination of good diet and correct tooth brushing, backed up by regular examination by a dentist,’ Alistair Burt MP said.
‘Despite that, their prevalence rates in England are still too high.’