Jun 30 2004
Commenting on the recent publication of the preliminary findings of the 2003 Children’s Dental Health Survey, the BDA has raised concerns over the lack of significant improvement in the percentage of five-year-olds suffering serious decay, though the oral health of older children has improved.
The statistics also acknowledge a failure to meet a number of the government’s own targets for improvements to children’s dental health. Despite aims for seven out of ten English five-year-olds to be free of tooth decay, the real figures fall well short, with only 59 per cent reported as showing no experience of tooth decay. A second target, that five year olds should average no more than one tooth with decay, was also missed by 50 per cent. The survey also demonstrates a failure to meet targets in Northern Ireland, where 39 per cent of five-year-olds were found to have no decay experience, compared to a target of 45 per cent. Among older children targets were met, with the average 12-year-old suffering 0.7 decayed teeth compared to a target of one tooth.
Professor Liz Kay, Scientific Adviser to the BDA, said
“There is no doubt that there has been an overall improvement in children’s dental health, but it is disappointing to see that there has been no real improvement in the teeth of the youngest children. Recent media reports have highlighted just how bad the problem is in young children and we must not lose sight of this. The Government needs to work with the dental profession and other healthcare professionals to ensure that children are not only getting access to dental services but that they and their parents are given the best information and support on dental care.”
Better education and information are key to tackling the continuing problems of dental disease and decay, according to the BDA. The Association has also reiterated its call for targeted water fluoridation as a simple, safe and effective way of helping to narrow the dental health gaps in the UK.