Big hike in fluoride varnish for kids

New figures reveal a 55% increase in the number of kids’ fluoride varnish treatments carried out by dental teams in the NHS.

A report by the NHS Information Centre shows that NHS practices carried out almost 850,000 fluoride varnish treatments on children in 2010-11.

This represented 8% of all child treatments.

The key finding was part of the report’s first ever look at clinical treatments.

It showed that the use of fluoride varnish treatments for kids increased substantially between 2009/10 and 2010/11.

They rose by 55.1% to nearly 850,000 (8.1% of all child treatments included a fluoride varnish), while there was a 21.6% rise among adults to 335,000 (1.2% of all adult treatments included a fluoride varnish).

Fluoride varnishing is backed by the Department of Health, is an evidence-based form of protection against tooth decay and is also less controversial than adding fluoride to the UK’s tap water.

This rise is treatments has been attributed to the responses of dental teams to the Department of Health recommendations in its Delivering better oral health: An evidence-based toolkit for prevention that offers guidelines on preventive measures in dentistry in maintaining the good oral health care of the nation.

This latest report brings together information on different aspects of NHS dentistry in England, from the number of dentists working for the NHS and the amount of activity they perform, to the number of patients seen by an NHS dentist.

Figures also reveal that an increasing number of female dentists are working for the NHS, showing that 43.5% of NHS dentists are now females following a 6.8% increase on the previous year.

This continues a recent trend that’s particularly notable in the under-35 age group – 55.2% of whom are female.

Also revealed, an increase in dental access that reveals a one million increase since 2006 in patients through the doors of NHS dentists.

The report shows:
• The number of treatment courses performed on the NHS increased by 655,000 (1.7%) in a year to reach 39.2 million in 2010/11. This number has been increasing each year since the courses of treatment measure was first introduced in 2006/07.
• 29.2 million patients (56.3% of the population) were seen by an NHS dentist in the 24 months to June 2011, a one million increase on the 24 months to March 2006, immediately prior to the introduction of the current dental contract when 55.8% of the population were seen by an NHS dentist.

Among child patients:
• 7.8 million were seen by an NHS dentist in the 24 months to June 2011; a 26,000 decrease (0.3%) on the 24 months to March 2006. The number of child patients seen has increased each quarter since June 2008. In 2010/11, 22,800 dentists performed NHS activity – an increase of approximately 800 (3.6%)

The NHS report also showed that NHS dentists are performing the biggest proportion of complex NHS treatments – such as bridgework and dentures – on non-paying adults.

Less than a quarter of all courses of treatment (9.0 million out of 39.2 million overall) performed by dentists in 2010/11 were carried out on non-paying adults; but this group accounted for more than half of all the complex courses of treatment (1.2 million out of 2.2 million in total).

One reason for this points to the socio-economic fact that there is a lower standard of dental health among non-paying adults.

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