About one in every three 5-year-old child in England has dental caries, which is also the most common reason 5- to 9-year-olds are hospitalised, according to a study.
Oral health in the UK has significantly improved over the past few decades, at least due in part to the widespread availability of fluoride. Dental problems still persist, though, as almost 30% of 5-year-olds in England have caries, according to a recent report by the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons. The authors also noted that children who have caries report having at least three of their teeth affected.
An estimated 46,500 children and teenagers were admitted to hospital in 2013-2014 due to oral health problems. Nearly 26,000 of said patients were children between 5 and 9 years old, which represent a 14% increase from figures in 2010.
The report pointed out that the severity of dental problems varies per region, largely due to numerous factors. Topping the list of places where oral health problems persist is the North West of England, followed by Yorkshire & the Humber, and London.
Authors of the study said that it is lamentable that thousands of children have to suffer from dental problems and need to be hospitalised when poor oral health is largely preventable. Preventive dentistry services in Bromley abound, but many children in that London Borough still do not visit the dentist.
It costs about 30 million pounds or US $46 million for hospital-based tooth extractions for children in 2012-2013. Moreover, over 30% of children in England did not visit their dentist from 2012-2014, according to the report.
Education and Action
Among the recommendations listed in the report echoes the sentiments of many dental professionals across the UK. One is that parents and children should learn the importance of practicing good oral health and prevention.
Another is a call to strengthen efforts to raise awareness on the impact of sweet treats on tooth decay and exploring ways to reduce sugar consumption among children because they are more vulnerable to tooth decay.
Proper dental care starts at home. The most effective way to prevent oral problems is still to practice good oral care and visiting the dentist regularly.