Pleas for Scottish election candidates to tackle oral health inequalities

Oral health inequalitiesPleas for promises to tackle oral health inequalities are being made to the candidates standing in the Scottish election. 

The British Dental Association (BDA) is urging those standing in the upcoming Scottish election to make oral health a key component of their agendas.

Unpublished data from Public Health Scotland reveals a sharp drop in NHS dental treatment as a result of COVID-19.

For example, between April and November 2020, the number of treatment courses delivered was 83% lower than in the same period the previous year.

Significant inequalities

Additionally, those children living in the most deprived areas experience tooth decay four times more than those in the least deprived areas.

In 2020, children and adults from the most deprived areas were less likely to have visited the dentist within the last two years when compared to those from the least deprived areas.

This figure stands at 73.5% compared to 85.7% of children and 55.9% compared to 67.1% of adults. Data also reveals this gap has widened compared to the year before.

The BDA estimates that 2,500 children are thought to be on waiting lists for dental extractions under general anaesthetic.

Undermining hard-won progress?

Robert Donald is chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Council. He said: ‘A wealthy 21st century nation shouldn’t accept that a wholly preventable disease remains the number one reason its children are admitted to hospital.

‘Sadly, COVID risks undermining hard-won progress, while leaving our dental service a shadow of its former self.

‘The result is that from decay to oral cancers, Scotland’s oral health gap is set to widen. We need all parties to offer a plan.

‘In this campaign we need candidates to do more than talk about “prevention”.

‘From helping practices boost capacity through to expansion of the sugar levy. We have set out simple steps that can put that principle into action, addressing inequality, and restoring services to millions.’

Statistics show oral cancers kill three times the number of Scots than car accidents. This is one of the highest rates in Europe.

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