The Dentist Magazine.

Millions of children missing out on essential free dental care

Published: 12/3/2018 12:00:00 AM

Using the most recent figures, released by the NHS last week, the Dental Law Partnership has discovered that just 58.7 per cent of children aged 0-17, living in England, have attended an appointment at an NHS dentist in the 12 months prior to October 2018.

Whilst the attendance rates do vary across the country, with London having the lowest percentage of attenders (49.9 per cent) and Greater Manchester the highest (64.3 per cent), the figures show that millions of children have not seen an NHS dentist, whether for a check-up or other dental treatment, in the last year.

This is despite dental care being provided free of charge by the NHS to children aged 0-17. The Dental Law Partnership believe that dental anxiety or phobia could be playing a part in the low numbers of child attenders, to the potential detriment of the nation’s oral and wider health.

Dentist Chris Dean, managing director of dental negligence claim experts, the Dental Law Partnership, said, “The data highlights that a significant number of children across England are not seeing an NHS dentist regularly. The potential number of people, especially children, not getting regular check-ups, at the very least, is something we find very worrying, because this is the way that dental issues are picked up before they become much worse, causing lots of discomfort, pain and stress. We understand that many people worry when it comes to visiting their dentist, and parents can even pass their own anxiety on to their children. However, we want to encourage people of all ages to make oral health a priority.”

The below table shows the latest attendance data released by the NHS for all regions in England:

Region

% of 0-17 year olds attending an NHS dentist between Oct 2017-Sept 2018

Greater Manchester

64.3%

Yorkshire & Humber

63.7%

Cheshire & Merseyside

63.7%

Lancashire & South Cumbria

62.5%

Cumbria & North East

62.3%

North Midlands

60.5%

South West of England

60.5%

Central Midlands

59.6%

Hampshire, Isle of Wight & Thames Valley

59.1%

Kent, Surrey & Sussex

57.5%

East Midlands

56.5%

West Midlands

55.8%

London

49.9%