NHS needs new youth dental programmes, says paediatric consultant
In order to tackle the child tooth decay crisis we are in desperate need of improved oral health programmes, an NHS paediatric dental consultant has said.
Treating children for dental problems has become worryingly commonplace, wrote Claire Stevens in The Guardian. She continued to say that more needs to be done to cut numbers of children in hospital preparing for operations under general anaesthetic. Claire recounted the story of a 2-year-old patient she had treated that needed all 20 teeth removed due to severe decay, and has said that as a result of this, new figures showing soaring extraction rates were of no surprise to her.
We spend around £35 million annually on the treatment of child dental problems, and it seems ludicrous to Claire and her peers to spend this much money on a preventable issue, especially during a time where the NHS is under serious pressure.
The fact that almost all cases of child tooth decay are preventable is a big source of frustration to dentists. Programmes such as Designed to Smile and ChildSmile have been very effective in Wales and Scotland. There were thousands of children not registered under a dentist in Scotland as near as a decade ago, whereas today every child in Scotland has a dentist. Similar improvements have been made in Wales. Although there are similar initiatives in England, such as the Hull’s Teeth Team, but there is only so much we can go without the help of local authorities – many of which have had their budgets slashed. As a result, children in England do not receive the same levels of care and support.
Claire concluded by insisting that the prevention of tooth decay in children required an “urgent investment” in England. Funding preventative measures would not only save as many children from suffering – it would save the NHS a lot of money in the long run that would have otherwise been spent on hospital treatment for decay.