Parents risk neglecting their children by not prioritising oral health
Thursday, June 13, 2019
With tooth decay in young children on the rise, the Dental Wellness Trust (DWT) is pressing the Government for funding to ramp up toothbrushing programmes in schools and to educate parents about the importance of looking after their children’s teeth.
The UK charity is lobbying the Government to make the funding of supervised tooth brushing programmes an urgent priority across all UK nurseries and primary schools, with the target of reducing tooth decay in children by up to 30 per cent..
With recent research suggesting that approximately 36,500 children are admitted to hospital each year for tooth extractions at an average cost of £836 per child for a general anaesthetic (equating to approximately £30.5million of government spend), the launch of a national oral health education and supervised tooth brushing programme could potentially save the NHS nearly £30million pounds.
‘Scared of the dentist’
A new national independent survey by DWT has revealed that 24.7 per cent of parents are at risk of neglecting their child’s wellbeing by being unconcerned that their child is at risk of tooth decay if they don’t brush their teeth regularly. This reiterates the need strengthen oral health education for parents.
Furthermore, the Dental Wellness Trust is calling for all professionals who have regular interaction with children to be on high alert for possible safeguarding where cases of severe dental decay are found – with responsibility not lying solely with social services. Where parents or carers repeatedly fail to access dental treatment for a child’s tooth decay, or leave dental pain untreated, alarm bells should ring for all those working with or responsible for children to consider neglect, says the charity.
Additional findings from the independent survey revealed that 62.9 per cent of teachers are very concerned about the state of the children’s teeth at their school/nursery. A further 80.7 per cent of teachers don’t think parents know enough about the importance of dental health.
DWT’s founder, Dr Linda Greenwall, said: ‘Although tooth decay does not discriminate, there are huge inequalities in oral health with tooth decay being strongly associated with deprivation and social exclusion. While it’s evident that our self-funded oral health prevention and tooth brushing programmes do work – we urgently need further government funding to continue providing this vital service to all children.
The cost saving to the government is staggering and we urge decisions makers to fund these schemes and tackle this wholly preventable disease.’
Supervised tooth brushing programmes focus on oral health advice and education to teachers by trained professionals together with the distribution of continuous free toothpaste and brush packs for daily brushing in the classroom.They form part of Public Health England’s recommendations as an effective strategy to prevent early childhood decay.
The DWT’s latest survey polled 1,200 people via its database, and also through London Early Years Foundation Nurseries (LEYF), during March and April, 2019.
Find out more about the Dental Wellness Trust here