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Children paying the price for dental crisis


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Once again, we’re seeing the results of Ministers dragging their heels on policies that could narrow the huge oral health gap among children.


One in six year six schoolchildren have decay – and those living in the most deprived areas of the country are more than twice as likely to have experience of tooth decay (23%) as those living in the least deprived areas (10%).


Remember the Government pledged to consult on tried and tested preventive programmes before the 2019 election, but nothing has ever been taken forward.


Ideas trailed to the press last weekend include directing hundreds of millions to practices in rural England, which won’t even begin to address the deep inequalities that plague urban England.


The Government has said its ambition is to ensure NHS services can be accessed by all who need them but has not offered any concrete plans capable of achieving that goal.

Survey data shows Wolverhampton, which has the highest percentage of children with decayed, missing or filled teeth – at 42.7% – would be unlikely to see any benefit from a policy focusing on ‘rural’ practices.


There are big disparities in the prevalence of experience of tooth decay among ethnic groups that remain concentrated in urban England. Levels are significantly higher in the ‘other’ ethnic group (22%) and Asian or Asian British ethnic group (18%) than in the white ethnic group (16%) and black or black British ethnic group (13%).


“For a generation, ministers have failed to grasp that decay and deprivation go hand in hand,” says Eddie Crouch. “This Government likes to talk about prevention but has offered nothing. Our youngest patients are continuing to pay the price.”


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