Poverty linked to tooth decay of Scottish tots

A third of the most deprived three-year-olds living in Glasgow have tooth decay, a study claims.

And a quarter of all three-year-olds examined in the city had some form of tooth decay.

The report, carried out by the University of Glasgow’s Dental School – claims that, on average, the poorest children had one-and-a-half teeth filled, decayed or missing.

In comparison, the researchers found that the least deprived three-year-olds in the city were missing a third of a tooth on average.

The study took place between 2006-2008 and looked at the dental health of 4,000 three-year-olds in the Greater Glasgow area.

It has now been published in the British Dental Journal.

Researchers used the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, which uses factors like income, housing, education and employment, to assess the level of deprivation for each child.

Andrew Lamb, British Dental Association director for Scotland, says: ‘While there has been a significant improvement in the nation’s oral health over the past 40 years, this study highlights the depressing fact that poor dental health and inequality are closely linked from very early in life.

‘Given that tooth decay is totally preventable, it’s unacceptable that social deprivation is still such a strong marker of poor dental health.

‘This study reinforces the importance of providing support to children from deprived communities soon after they are born.

‘As adult oral health can be predicted by childhood dental health, this targeted intervention is vital to closing the gap in oral health inequalities.’

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