Mission to close child health gap
Chief Dental Officer stresses that breaking link between poor oral health and deprivation remains a priority
Scotland’s Chief Dental Officer, Margie Taylor, has responded to a call for every child to be given an equal opportunity to achieve good dental health by reiterating plans to break the link between poor oral health and deprivation.
A recent survey for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), assessed parents’ knowledge of children’s oral health and experience of accessing dental care. It found:
- only 50 per cent knew that the NHS recommends taking your child to a dentist before their first birthday
- 23 per cent had problems accessing free NHS dental care, either for themselves during pregnancy and in the early days of motherhood, or for their children.
This prompted calls from the RCPCH for areas where there are significant oral health problems to prioritise children’s oral health and use tried and tested schemes to improve outcomes and reduce health inequalities.
Dr Elizabeth O’Sullivan of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said: “Currently, there is a postcode lottery in children’s oral health with some areas providing high-quality interventions and awareness campaigns while others do not. This means there are pockets of children up and down the country missing out on services that are provided free of charge to others in neighbouring towns and cities.”
That prompted Margie Taylor to note: “Record numbers of people in Scotland have access to NHS dentists and our oral health is improving. However, we are continuing to work to break the link between poor oral health and deprivation.
“The Oral Health Improvement Plan will introduce preventative, personalised care plans based on clinical evidence – allowing those most at risk to see their dentist more regularly, helping to prevent poor oral health and reducing oral health inequalities.
“We are rightly proud of our Childsmile Programme, which has been recognised as an internationally leading programme, with a particular focus on children living in deprived areas. We have recently expanded the programme through our Fairer Scotland Action Plan to include even more children from deprived areas.”