Inequalities in children’s oral health report confirm the need to level up access to NHS dentistry.

The Association of Dental Groups has welcomed the publication of the Oral Health Survey of 5 year olds by the Office of Health Disparities which confirms the “compelling evidence” given by Dr Sandra White to Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee this week.  The report reveals stark variations between regions in oral health for children and highlights a continuing “north/south” divide.

Incidence of dental decay in five year olds was highest in the North West, Yorkshire and Humber and East of England regions.

In 2021 to 2022 5 year olds in the most deprived 20% of areas of the country (35.1%) were 2.5 times as likely to experience dentinal decay as those in the least deprived 20% of areas (13.5%).

Dr Sandra White, Clinical Director of the ADG said;

“In my evidence to Parliament’s inquiry into NHS dentistry I highlighted that experience of dentinal decay was already apparent in more than 1 in 4 children by the age of 5 years. Those children with experience of decay have on average between 3 and 4 affected teeth.”

“Until 2015 there was lowering levels of prevalence of experience of dentinal decay in this age group and a reduction in oral health inequalities. Sadly, since then we have not seen any further improvements in prevalence of experience of dentinal decay or inequalities.”

“There are two clear actions the Government could take away from these findings.  Firstly the importance of moving forward with water fluoridation which is recommended as reducing oral health inequalities in more deprived areas.  Secondly we have to address the workforce mismatch of the lack of training posts and hence dentists in the parts of the country that need them most.”