“Tooth decay the leading cause of hospital admissions for five-to-nine-year-olds”

Over 35% of five year old children in areas of England with high levels of deprivation have had tooth decay, compared to only 13.5% in more affluent areas, according to the government’s own National Dental Epidemiology Programme survey carried out in 2022 and released at the end of March. 

The survey is the latest in a long-line of reports and articles that show the crisis in dentistry in England.

The British Dental Association (BDA) has called on the government to “act urgently” to reverse the growing inequality in child oral health in England:

“With tooth decay the leading cause of hospital admissions for five-to-nine-year-olds, there is a significant, and preventable, knock-on cost to the NHS”.

The survey’s findings, note the BDA, are not a result of behaviour, poor choices or a lack of education, rather:

“They are a result of a wider system failure to take forward proven, cost-effective public health measures that prevent tooth decay and improve everyone’s health and wellbeing.”

There are several steps that the BDA is urging the government to make, in order to reduce this inequality. Including, imposing further restrictions on the marketing and sale of sugary food and drinks, policies to improve access to affordable, healthy food, and increasing water fluoridation schemes.

The BDA notes that government cuts to the Public Health Grant (down 26% overall since 2015) have reduced campaigns promoting good oral health to children.

Full story in The Lowdown, 10 April 2023