Tooth decay called a “significant public health issue”
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has called tooth decay a significant public health issue.
The RCPCH looked at infant (children under the age of one) mortality, and has ranked the UK 15th out of 19 Western European countries in its State of Child Health publication.
In the document, the RCPCH highlighted improvements in oral health, but pointed to the significant public health issue of tooth decay, regarding it as an important indicator of a child’s development and quality of life.
Professor Damien Walmsley, the British Dental Association’s scientific adviser, said that “The RCPCH’s report provides a helpful and informative snapshot of child health across the four nations in the UK.”
He went on to say that whilst it’s “great to see that oral health has been recognised as an important measure of our children’s health and wellbeing”, it is “depressing that the RCPCH confirms that the health of children in the UK has not improved at the same rate as in other wealthy countries and the stark inequalities in health have widened.”
Recent figures released by the Local Government Association (LGA) showed hospitals in England perform extractions on 160 children and teenagers every day, citing poor diets as the main reason 40,000 operations were undertaken in English hospitals last year.
“These figures are a stark reminder of the damage excessive sugar consumption is doing to our children’s teeth,” chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said.
“‘The fact there are more than 160 operations taking place each day to remove teeth in children and teenagers should be a wake-up call to the urgent need to take radical action on our nation’s addiction to sugar,” she stated.
“It also goes to show the importance of having a good oral hygiene routine, as well as how regular dentist trips can ensure tooth decay is tackled at an early stage,” Seccombe continued. “Poor oral health can affect children and young people’s ability to sleep, eat, speak, play and socialise with others” whilst “good oral health can help children learn at school, and improve their ability to thrive and develop.”