Based around the most recent figures released by NHS Digital, the map depicts a north-south divide in terms of access – a young child in the north is more than twice as likely to have been taken to see an NHS dentist before the age of two than in parts of the south.
‘While this map shows the work that needs to be done, it also shows that improvements can be made when we all work together,’ Claire Stevens, a consultant in paediatric dentistry and president of BSPD, said.
‘It highlights the significant effort already made in the north of England by the dental profession to give access to children from an early age.
‘We have had the worst decay levels in children for years but now access is improving.
‘What we don’t want is for the south of England to be left behind.’
Decay levels in young children are generally worse in the north of England, but early access is generally better, according to the data.
In the Manchester and Leicester areas and large parts of Yorkshire, between 25 and 30% of children aged two and under have seen a dentist, meanwhile, parts of Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire have as few as 10-15% of children aged two and under accessing an NHS dentist.
The part of the country with the highest access levels is Tyneside, where 35-40% of 0-2 year-old children saw an NHS dentist in the last year.
The map, created by the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD), was created to coincide with the launch of the national campaign Dental Check by One.
‘Concerted efforts need to be made so that as a society, children’s oral health is a priority and as important as getting registered with a doctor,’ Claire continued.
‘We would like our Dental Check by One campaign to become a benchmark for a society that values the oral health of its children.’