New children’s book about a dentist

Last weekend my attention was drawn to a review in the Guardian of a book by David Walliams titled Demon Dentist.

A synopsis of the book says: ‘Alfie is a boy with horrible teeth.

'There is a new dentist in town and everybody loves her, except for Alfie and his friend Gabz.

‘She gives away stuff like toothpaste that burns through stone and sweets that make kids have severe toothache.

'In addition to that, there are horrible things under kid’s pillows, like eyeballs instead of money.’

No doubt Mr Walliams, who I understand is a comedian as well as a children’s author, thinks this is hilarious.

The reviews on retailer websites would indicate that his admirers think so too.

I do not share in the enthusiasm for such a book.

I wonder if the mother of Imogen Whitaker, whose experience was reported in the Independent almost a year ago, would feel the same.

She was just five years old when she went to hospital and had nine of her teeth extracted.

The paper reported that every year thousands of children in Britain are having large numbers of teeth removed in hospital under general anaesthetic.

Latest NHS data shows that dental problems are now the fourth most common reason young people under 17 are admitted to hospital.

Research published by the Office for National Statistics shows that 14% of eight-year-olds have signs of decay in permanent teeth, with one in 100 losing a tooth to decay.

Kathryn Harley, a consultant paediatric dentist, told the paper: 'The first time a child sees the dentist might be at age six, seven or eight instead of 18 months or two years old.

'One of the problems is that children are referred to people like me, not when they have a few tiny holes that I could manage with ease in the dental chair, but when dental disease is advanced and they require multiple extractions.'

For years dentists have been the butt of so-called comedians' jokes.

I wonder if the likes of Mr Walliams took the trouble to visit a dental clinic and see children have to have multiple extractions under general anaesthetic.

I wonder whether if he had he would think his book was quite so hilarious.

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