More than four in ten children have not seen an NHS dentist in the last year

Children Dental Care

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 small improvement compared to the last year. In the previous 12 months, 41.4% of children didn’t see an NHS dentist. However, the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) says that the number of children not seeing a dentist is still too high and not acceptable.

Earlier this month, the FDS released a new statement saying that more than 100,000 children under 10 were admitted to hospitals in England due to tooth decay between April 2015 and April 2018.

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.”