Six-month wait for child dental treatment

British Dental Association condemns hospital waiting times for children needing dental extractions

20 September, 2017 / infocus

Paediatric patients with extensive tooth decay in Glasgow are waiting up to six months for treatment, according to new figures on hospital waiting times obtained by the BDA.

The association has found that a squeeze on hospital funding and theatre time for paediatric dental cases is leaving children in pain and distress for long periods.

And, while the latest figures from the National Dental Inspection Programme show that 69 per cent of five-year-olds have no obvious signs of tooth decay, clear inequalities still persist. The figures also show that only 55 per cent of children from the most deprived areas of free from decay, compared with 82 per cent from the least deprived.

The BDA also says that, despite the Childsmile programme leading the way in the UK with its nursery toothbrushing programme, tooth decay remains the main reason children are admitted to hospital. In 2015/16, 7,944 children were admitted for dental extractions.

A spokesman for the BDA Scotland said: “Six months is a lifetime for children in pain and distress to have to wait for urgent dental treatment.

“The impact of having rotten, septic teeth on a child’s health, wellbeing and development cannot be underestimated. Their symptoms are not confined to the mouth, as it can also affect their speech and growth, not to mention their confidence and ability to socialise.

“The longer these children have to wait, the more likely they are to develop an infection, or abscess – and in the meantime they may have to take repeat courses of antibiotics to alleviate symptoms, which is anything but best practice, and could increase the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

“While Scotland has made some progress in improving children’s dental health, much more still needs to be done, and this is no excuse for neglecting those vulnerable children most in need of dental care. Funding to free up theatre space for the care of these children must be prioritised now.”

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