Figures published by NHS Digital show that more than four in ten (41%) children did not see an NHS dentist in the 12 months to June this year. This is despite NHS dental treatment being free for under-18s.
There has been a slight improvement compared to the previous 12 months, when 41.4% of children did not see an NHS dentist. However, the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) has said that the number of children not seeing a dentist is still unacceptably high.
Earlier this month, FDS issued a new position statement, which revealed that there were more than 100,000 hospital admissions due to tooth decay among children under the age of 10 between April 2015 and April 2018 in England.
Professor Michael Escudier, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, said:
“Although we’ve seen a slight increase in the number of children visiting a dentist over the last year, the number who did not attend remains unacceptably high. Regular visits to the dentist ensure that a child’s oral health can be closely monitored as they grow up, and that any problems can be identified and addressed at an early stage.
Professor Escudier added: “It’s absolutely vital that families are made aware of just how important it is for children to visit the dentist. FDS would like to see the government co-ordinate a public health campaign highlighting that NHS dental care is free for all under-18s, and that children should visit a dentist at least once a year.
“We are also aware that in parts of the country it has become more difficult to access dental care. We believe that all patients should be able to access dental services when they need them, regardless of where they live. The government must commission an urgent review of the factors affecting access to dental care, with a view to addressing inequalities in different parts of the country.”