Tooth decay in YOUNG children
Were sure this is not the case for our patients here at Newport Pagnell Dental Clinic but we thought it was an interesting read, published recently in a magazine article word of mouth:
According to an alarming new report from Public Health England, looking at the state of children’s oral health in England, a quarter of five-year-old children have experienced tooth decay during their short lives.
The shocking research shows that, on average, three or four of their teeth have been affected; with the vast majority of tooth decay going untreated, leading to painful and long lasting consequences. President of the Oral Health Foundation, Janet Goodwin, has taken a look at what lies behind this report and asked what can be done to improve these abhorrent statistics and asks if the pharmacy can play a key role in shaping the future of children’s oral health in the UK. Unfortunately, and depressingly, the findings of this new Public Health England report do not reveal anything that we are not already aware of, but they are displayed in a very visually engaging manner.
They do offer sound advice though which, if implemented, effectively could help to improve these patterns in the future.
The trends shown are something which we have seen repeatedly seen in recent years. ‘Poorer’ areas tend to suffer from higher rates or poor oral health due to a perceived lack of provision, but this is something which I believe can be rectified by raising awareness levels.
Much of the problem lies in a lack of awareness from parents and carers regarding the dental services that are available to children. In England under 18’s are entitled to free NHS dental treatment, which rises to under 19 if they are in full-time education.
Due to this lack of awareness and the perception that dental treatment is incredibly expensive many young people do not see a dentist regularly.
With school funding for oral health provisions extensively cut too there are also very little chances that these children are identified and fall through the cracks.
It is this combined lack of awareness and education, due to financial cuts in many areas, that is seriously failing these children.
It is being more and more evident that oral health can be indicative of wider health and social care issues, including poor nutrition and obesity, especially in areas of low social-economic status.
But by recognising these trends we should be able to address them. I believe one answer to help start to fix the problem could lie in a joint, targeted approach. I think we can achieve great changes by bringing different health sectors together to get important messages across, one vital part of this would be the local pharmacy. As primary care givers many people turn to their pharmacy as the first point for advice and solutions to health problems. They do this as they are convenient, often in the heart of a community, and also advice is free and quick to access.
One issue is that this may face though is many pharmacies and their staff do not have the specific knowledge to give advice and support on oral health issues. I would like to see pharmacies and local dental practices to work more closely to help deliver advice and services to children, this would benefit every party involved. The Oral Health Foundation has also been looking into working with the pharmacies to develop help sheets and training that could be an effective way to get the right messages across in the right way. Their website and dental helpline are also assets which pharmacies should take advantage of when they do not have the full knowledge to hand.
Remember keep surgery snacks to a minimum, brushing for at least two minutes twice a day, children should also be seeing their general Dentist regularly – Call us today on: 01908 610536 to book in your registered child in for their exam.
Or Visit www.dentalhealth.org for more information.