London’s dental disgrace
More than half of London children – nearly one million children in total – have not been seen by an NHS dentist in the past year.
The London Assembly is dismayed that over 10,000 children in London are admitted to hospital every year to have multiple decayed teeth removed under a general anaesthetic.
A motion agreed on July 6, calls on the Mayor to include oral health improvement measures in the London Health Inequalities Strategy. It also asks him to urge the government to take action to reduce sugar consumption in children across the country.
Andrew Dismore AM, who proposed the motion, said, “It’s awful to think so many children in London are suffering with such poor dental health that the only option is to have their teeth removed under general anaesthetic.
“We now need the Mayor to take swift action to address profound inequalities in oral health outcomes in London. That means getting the message out to parents that a yearly dental appointment for their child, as recommended by the experts, is completely free and there for their take-up. Not only should oral health feature in the Mayor’s London Health Inequalities Strategy, I’d now like to see him piling some pressure on government to legislate to reduce sugar consumption in children.
“With the impact of poor oral health stretching beyond a child’s general health, often taking its toll on their school readiness, development and self-esteem, we need that action sooner rather than later.”
The full text of the Motion is:
“This assembly notes with alarm that, despite dental decay being almost completely preventable, more than 10,000 children in London are admitted to hospital every year to have multiple decayed teeth removed under a general anaesthetic. This assembly is concerned about massive equalities in oral health outcomes across the capital, with just 16 per cent of five-year-olds suffering from decay in Bromley, while 39 per cent of their peers are affected in Ealing.
“This assembly regrets that London has the lowest rates of dental attendance of all English regions, with nine out of 10 councils with the lowest proportions of people attending NHS dental services being London boroughs. More than half of London children – nearly one million children in total – have not been seen by an NHS dentist in the past year, even though such check-ups are free and NICE recommends they should take place at least once a year. Recent research by the British Dental Association reveals that more than over 70 per cent of parents are not aware dental treatment for children is free on the NHS. This assembly urges the Mayor to raise awareness of the fact NHS dentistry is free for under 18s and to encourage parents in London to take advantage of this fact to help keep their children’s teeth healthy.
“This assembly notes that poor oral health impacts not just on children’s general health, but can also have a lasting impact on their school readiness, impair their nutrition, development, and ability to socialise with other children. Problems with teeth health can also significantly affect confidence and self-esteem, and even hinder a person’s long-term life chances.
“This assembly calls on the Mayor to include oral health improvement measures in developing the London Health Inequalities Strategy and to take all possible steps to improve dental attendance and oral health outcomes in the capital. This assembly also calls on the Mayor to encourage all London boroughs to follow in the footsteps of Greenwich, Lewisham and Bexley and pledge to become ‘Sugar Smart’, and to make representations to the government to take decisive legislative action to reduce sugar consumption in children across the country.”