London takes unenviable title as the worst place for children’s dental health
London has taken the unenviable title as the worst place in the UK for children’s dental health, after a study revealed that 9 of the top 10 spaces for dental visits made by children were filled by boroughs in the capital. In these areas, more than 50 percent of children didn’t visit a dentist in the last year, despite advice from dentists suggesting 6-monthly routine checks.
Statistics show that more than a third of 5-year-old children in Tower Hamlets have tooth decay, and it’s no surprise, according to Prof Nigel Hunt, as the latest figures show that more than 60 percent of children didn’t see a dentist in 2016. Prof Hunt, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, said that it was “unacceptable” for rates to be so high, and urged parents to take their children for regular routine checks from the age of 12 months old. NHS dental care is free of charge for children.
There has been an alarming rise in the number of children requiring hospital treatment for decay, a condition that is almost always preventable. Children as young as 2 or 3 years old are going under general anaesthetic to have teeth removed when most cases of decay can be prevented by good oral hygiene, frequent dental checks and healthy eating. Dentists in the capital can also offer preventative services like fissure sealant and fluoride varnish treatment, but if parents don’t take their children to the dentist, there’s very little they can do to stem the rising tide of decay.
Tower Hamlets Council has launched initiatives to try and educate children and adults about the importance of dental care and healthy oral habits. It is hoped that by working with schools and families, the rate of decay will fall in the coming months and years.