No room for complacency, say dentists

14 October, 2019 / infocus

The British Dental Association Scotland has welcomed progress in combatting tooth decay, as official figures show continued falls in the number of children with fillings and facing extractions.

Since 2000-01, the number of fillings given to children has reduced by 62 per cent from 774,762 to 298,192 in 2018-19. Over the same period, the number of tooth extractions has fallen from 133,000 to 86,000 – a decrease of 35 per cent.

BDA Scotland has been a longstanding supporter of the innovative Childsmile programme. It has, however, called on the Scottish Government to redouble its efforts “given the stark oral health inequalities across Scotland”.

The most recent National Dental Inspection Programme Report showed huge variation in decay levels, with the percentage of Primary 1 children free from dental decay in the most deprived areas 30 percentage points worse than in the least deprived areas (56 per cent versus 86 per cent) – and the gap actually increased by 3 percentage points from the previous report. In 2016, that gap had shown signs of narrowing. 

Figures also show that the percentage of children free from dental decay in the most deprived areas (56 per cent) is still falling short of the Scottish Government’s 2010 target of 60 per cent.

David McColl, Chair of the BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee, said: “Scotland is making real progress in the fight against tooth decay, but there is absolutely no room for complacency. A preventable disease remains the number one reason for child hospital admissions, with young patients waiting up to six months for treatment.

“The oral health gap between rich and poor is not inevitable. Ministers need to redouble their efforts to tackle these deep and persistent health inequalities.”

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