Pandemic further risks child dental health

THE coronavirus pandemic is likely to exacerbate already high rates of dental decay in children in England, says the BDA.

It points out that in 2018/19, just under 45,000 extractions of multiple teeth (costing the NHS £41.5 million) were performed on under-18s in England compared to around 38,000 extractions in 2012/13 (costing £27.4 million).

Levels of health inequality are also of concern with the latest Public Health England survey of oral health of five year olds showing a ten-fold difference in severity of dental decay between those in more and less deprived local authority areas.

The BDA is warning that the pandemic will increase the disparity, with the effect of lockdown diets, the suspension of public health programmes promoting the prevention of tooth decay, and high-street dental services currently running at less than a quarter of former capacity.

The BDA is calling on Government to double down on prevention strategies, building on the recent obesity campaign with extension of the successful sugar levy, swift implementation of an energy drinks ban for kids, and follow-up on policies that were championed in 2019’s green paper on prevention, including supervised brushing in schools.

British Dental Association Chair Mick Armstrong said: "It's inevitable these figures will go from bad to worse, as lockdown diets, the suspension of public health programmes and the collapse in access take their toll.

"Government cannot remain a passive observer. Any retreat from public health activity will hit England’s most deprived communities. Ministers must ensure the prevention agenda does not become another casualty of this pandemic."

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