School dental screening scrapped

Northern Ireland is scrapping school dental screening in light of a recent study.

Acting Chief Dental Officer, Donncha O’Carolan, has announced it will end when the 2007/08 school year is over.

The University of Manchester study on the effectiveness of school dental screening programmes concluded that ‘school dental screening has a minimal impact on dental attendance and only a small proportion of screened children receive appropriate treatment’.

This was backed up by the National Screening Committee (NSC) who told UK Chief Dental Officers that there is no evidence to support the continued population screening for dental disease among children aged six to nine years.

The NSC advises that the resources used on screening are redeployed to intervention, which are more effective in reducing inequalities in oral health.

The Department of Health issued guidance to Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in January 2007, notifying them of the NSC’s advice and inviting them to reconsider whether it is appropriate for PCTs to continue with dental screening in their area and to consider how best to address inequalities in other ways.

Yesterday, announced that the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) would welcome a move to make a dental examination of all pre-schoolers compulsory.

A controversial bill in the US requiring all children to have a dental exam before starting school is currently being considered.

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