‘Some children have never seen a toothbrush’ – concern increases over children’s oral health

A dentist who volunteers in schools has said that some children in Norfolk ‘have never seen a toothbrush’.

Stuart McCance visits more than 800 school children in Norfolk and Waveney as part of a voluntary project for children’s oral health.

Following his volunteering work, Stuart has become concerned about the number of children with cavities.

According to a BBC report, he said: ‘In some instances, we’re finding it’s the first time kids have seen a dentist – and they’re five or six years of age – when we should be seeing children from six months when their first tooth comes in

‘Some, more worryingly, have never seen a toothbrush.

‘I did a visit and some were seeing one for the first time at six years of age.’

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Dental desert

Norfolk has one of the lowest numbers of dentists per 10,000 people in England, data shows.

In addition, in November public health officials found that only 38% of children in Norfolk and Waveney had been seen by a dentist in the past 12 months. This is compared to 46% of children in England overall.

With no practices registering children as NHS patients in the area, the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) has called it a ‘dental desert’.

This comes after a parliamentary inquiry into the state of NHS dentistry opened this week.

The Health and Social Care Committee received ‘brutally honest’ oral evidence on the state of NHS dentistry from dental leaders.

Exodus of dentists from the NHS

Shawn Charlwood, chair of the British Dental Association (BDA) General Practice Committee, told MPs that NHS dentistry is reaching the end of the road.

‘The recent changes do not come close to a reformed contract’, he said. ‘These are minor tweaks. They will not stop the exodus of dentists and their teams from the NHS.’

He added: ‘The fundamental barrier has been funding. There is only enough NHS dentistry commissioned in this country for 50% of the population.

‘Now can you imagine if this was general medical practice? There would be rioting.’

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