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Rugby winners lose out in oral health stats

Wales' chief dental officer launches the Welsh government's new five-year National Oral Health Plan

It outlines the agenda for improving oral health inequalities across Wales and comes as new figures from the Welsh Oral Health Information Unit show that 41%-plus children in Wales currently experience dental decay.

CDO David Thomas, says that while the figure is too high, it does mark a decrease of 6% since 2007/8.

During a visit to the Primary Care Dental Unit at St David’s Hospital, Cardiff, the CDO outlined the aims of the five-year plan.

He said: 'A dental survey of five-year-olds published today by the Welsh Oral Health Information Unit confirms just over 41% of children in Wales currently experience dental decay and whilst this figure is still too high it represents a decrease of 6% since 2007/08.

'The data also shows for the first time there is no evidence of widening inequalities, and dental disease levels in children are improving across all social groups in Wales.

'The National Oral Health Plan looks to the future and outlines an agenda for improving oral health, reducing oral health inequalities in Wales over the next five years and beyond.'

An integral part of the Plan is the Welsh Government’s National Oral Health Improvement Programme, Designed to Smile, which has more than 78,000 children now taking part.

David Thomas added: 'Prevention is at the core of the plan. This is one of our major goals, together with the need to raise awareness of people’s responsibility in taking care of their own oral health.

'To achieve the aims of the plan, and have modern NHS dental services that continue to deliver high quality care, change is required. The skills, experience and dedication of the dental workforce will remain a vital resource upon which we will need to draw to drive forward the necessary changes.

‘Patients, the dental profession, health boards, and the Welsh Government all have an important role to play in making this happen.'

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It was good to read on your site the announcement, by the Chief Dental Officer for Wales, of an Oral Health Improvement Plan for Wales. It was also good to read of the large numbers of Welsh school children (78,000) who now enjoy the benefits of getting more fluorides in contact with their developing teeth through the Designed to Smile Programme. That said, however, it is a great shame that the political masters of the dental professionals in Wales fail to see the elephant in the room. By turning a Nelson eye to the scientific basis for the adjustment of fluoride levels in Wales drinking water to optimum levels for reducing tooth decay in both children and adults, they prefer the rhetoric of a vociferous minority, articulated on near religious rather than evidence based lines. The lacunae in the minds of Ministers on this issue are easily filled with anything but fact based in science. In a week when Wales defeated England 30:3 in the Millennium Stadium and we 'celebrate' 50 years since beating the All Blacks, it is worth observing, admittedly with my tongue firmly in my cheek, that those young men in black from New Zealand enjoy, where technically possible, drinking water with fluoride levels adjusted to optimal levels... no obvious health disbenefits there then!