Scotland still ‘lags behind England’, despite improvements

09 November, 2016 / infocus

Despite a report showing that more than two thirds of P1 children are now decay-free, the British Dental Association (BDA) says that Scotland still lags behind countries such as Norway and England.

The National Dental Inspection Programme (NDIP) Report 2016, has found that 69 per cent of five-year-olds now have no obvious decay experience, up slightly on 2014 (68 per cent). The number of obvious decayed, missing and filled primary teeth in P1 children has also dropped from 1.27 in 2014 to 1.21 in 2016.

However, despite these improvements there remain significant oral health inequalities in Scotland, with 55 per cent of children in the most deprived areas of the country with no obvious decay, compared with 82 per cent in the least deprived areas.

Scotland is still playing catch-up with our neighbour south of the border, so there is no scope for standing still.

Robert Donald

And, despite the overall improvement in children’s dental health, the BDA has pointed out that Scotland still lags behind countries of similar development, such as England and Norway. Comparable figures show that two-thirds (75 per cent) of five-year olds in England are decay-free, with broadly similar figures for Norway (73-86 per cent).

Robert Donald, chair of the BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee, said: “Scotland is leading the way in investing in children’s dental health. The huge improvement we have seen in youngsters’ teeth since the millennium is testament to investing in an early years’ prevention scheme, which operates in our nurseries and schools. Undoubtedly, Childsmile has saved many young children from distress, days out of education, and ultimately avoidable dental treatment.

“However, despite this improvement, Scotland is still playing catch-up with our neighbour south of the border, so there is no scope for standing still. There is no escaping either the fact that far too many children from our most disadvantaged communities still bear the burden of tooth decay, a largely preventable disease.

“Government ministers must continue to invest in Childsmile, to tackle this unacceptable inequality in dental health. The BDA has also called on the Scottish government to expand the ChildSmile programme to five to 12-year-olds and we have championed wide-ranging action on sugar, including taxation, public education and marketing, and for proceeds from the sugar levy to be directed to oral health initiatives.”

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