Children in England missing one-year dental check-up

  • Date: 16 May 2023

OVER 6.5 million children in England were not seen by an NHS dentist in the year to June 2022, according to figures published by the Liberal Democrats.

The research commissioned from the House of Commons Library also shows that the percentage of children not being seen by an NHS dentist over the previous 12 months increased from 41 per cent in June 2018 to 54 percent in June 2022.

Under-18s are recommended by the NHS to see a dentist at least once a year due to the increased risk of dental decay, compared to two years for adults.

NHS Digital figures published last year showed that nearly 30,000 children and young people aged between 0-19 were admitted to hospital because of tooth decay in 2021-22.

The BDA commenting on the analysis also points out that dental decay is higher among children from more deprived areas. In 2022 the prevalence of dental decay in more deprived areas was 35.1 per cent compared to 13.5 per cent in more affluent areas – an oral health gap of over 21 percentage points.

BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said: “Access to dentistry has fallen off a cliff. We’re losing the ability to nip problems in the bud, and the results are frankly devastating.

“A preventable disease remains the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children, and things are set to go from bad to worse."

The Liberal Democrats are calling for an emergency rescue plan for NHS dentistry, including spending the estimated £400 million of funding that went unspent in the last financial year to boost the number of appointments. The party is also calling for additional resources for mobile dental clinics to visit schools and the removal of VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said: “It is disgraceful that millions of children are going without the dental care they need, while others are waiting years in pain for treatment.

“These figures must act as a wake-up call. We need a rescue plan now to ensure families across the country can get an NHS dentist appointment when they need one.”

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