A top Edinburgh dentist has described national figures on tooth decay in children as ‘worrying’ and urged parents to take action.
Duncan Weir, from Ivy Dental, was reacting to a National Dental Inspection Programme (NDIP) report, released at the end of October.
It showed almost a quarter of children in primary seven – 23 per cent – had obvious decay experience in their permanent teeth in 2017.
“The recent national independent inspection report showed that almost one in four 10 to 12 year olds had experience of some form of decay in their adult teeth,” said Dr Weir.
“This has shown slight improvement from one in two children of the same age back in 2005 but is still a worrying statistic.
“Some of these teeth have only been in the mouth for five or so years and need to last a lifetime.”
The NDIP is carried out annually.
Two school year groups are involved – at entry into local authority schools in primary one and in primary seven, before the move to secondary education.
The figures did show an improvement over the past decade.
Three quarters of children in primary seven – 77 per cent – had no obvious decay in their permanent teeth in 2017 compared to 53 per cent in 2005.
The average number of children’s teeth affected by decay in 2017 was less than half that of 2005 – 0.49 compared to 1.29.
However, only 65.6 per cent of children in the most deprived areas had no obvious signs of decay compared to 86.5 per cent in the least deprived areas.
Dr Weir encouraged parents to make the most of free dental checks for children.
“Regular routine NHS examinations at your dentist are free for children,” he said.
“This should be started from when they are an infant to help acclimatise children to seeing their dentist.
“Prevention is the key to stopping decay before it starts and your dentist can help with these prevention strategies getting to the root cause avoiding the need for fillings and extractions.”
The inspection took place between November 2016 and June 2017 and included 14,596 primary seven children – just over a quarter of the estimated population of children that age in Scotland.
The NHS board for Lothian, which covers Edinburgh, found 80.6 children had no obvious signs of decay.
Orkney and Greater Glasgow and Clyde had the best and worst results – 90.4 and 73.1 per cent of children showing no signs of decay respectively.
The report’s authors suggested the improved level of dental health would be maintained as Childsmile – a national programme to improve oral health – continued to be implemented.
However, they added: “Clear health inequalities remain, with only small improvements seen for both the socioeconomic and non-socio-economic tests of dental health inequality over the time period.”
Ivy Dental Practice is the home of affordable dental implants in Edinburgh.
It provides dental care for adults and children, both under the NHS and privately.
The team of highly qualified dentists and hygienists offer a full range of treatments to give you the smile you want.
For more information visit www.ivydental.co.uk or call 0131 667 1595.