ADG: Children face ‘triple whammy’ of coronavirus dental dangers

Thousands of children could soon require hospital operations to remove unsavable teeth due to a ‘triple whammy’ of dental dangers, states the Association of Dental Groups (ADG).

Hospitals in England carried out an average 177 operations a day on children and teenagers last year to remove teeth, costing the NHS more than £40m.

Now the Association of Dental Groups is warning that lockdown will make the problem significantly worse as:

  1. Many children have stopped going to the dentist or been unable to get appointments
  2. Children are more likely to snack on more sugary foods and drinks while stuck at home
  3. Community oral health programmes for children have been interrupted

Neil Carmichael, Chair of the ADG, said: “Before lockdown, there were multiple operations being conducted every day to remove children’s teeth across the UK. Since then children have faced a triple whammy of dental dangers so it’s inevitable that things will get worse. When routine appointments restart, dentists could have their work cut out dealing tooth decay among children. In hospitals all the signs are that we’re looking at more operations than ever to remove children’s teeth.”

There is mounting evidence than millions of people have been staying away from dental surgeries or being unable to get appointments during lockdown. A major new poll by the ADG suggests that children in 50% of households across the UK have missed or decided against a visit to the dentist since lockdown began.

The UK already the lowest number of dentists per capita of any G7 country, leading to growing concerns that a backlog of care may well occur after the pandemic unless measures are taken to aid recruitment into the profession.

Dentists have also expressed concern over ‘lockdown diets’ including more sugary treats and fizzy drinks having an adverse effect on children’s oral health. One survey for a member of ADG found that 77% of dentists expect the ‘lockdown diet’ to have an adverse impact on the nation’s oral health. Other anecdotal evidence suggests an increase in sugary baking particularly at the beginning of lockdown and an increase in sugary snacking. 

Finally, dental professionals have expressed concern over community dental services which normally deliver child oral health improvement programmes through Local Authorities, which have now been disrupted. These are early intervention, preventative programmes in areas of likely poor child oral health.

Sue Jordan, Assistant Director, Oral Health Improvement for CDS-CIC, which deliver community dental services and oral health improvement across much of east and central England said: Over lockdown 90% of our outreach to the most vulnerable communities in our regions has been shut down. In normal times we support more than 2000 young children to do supervised teeth cleaning and today not one child will be receiving that help. We have helped children as old as three who didn’t know which way to hold a toothbrush. They won’t be receiving that help any more or the structure that they need to prevent dental problems. They won’t be able to get that help until post-covid routines can be normalised either.

“All the evidence we have suggests that early preventative care for dentistry has a huge return on investment. We know that our work can save up to nearly £7 for every pound spent. After Covid, that bill will eventually come due with massively negative consequences for the children and the NHS. Dentistry really is a critical preventative service, the problems that get worse for these children suffer during lockdown can only get exponentially worse over time. we are going to have a real uphill struggle getting back on track when this is all over.”

The CDS-CIC work with Local Authorities, the NHS and other Community organisations to identify the most at risk children for dental problems. Their work helps identify and educate younger people in particular to improve their oral hygiene.  https://communitydentalservices.co.uk/

Data around number of dentists taken from https://www.nao.org.uk/report/dentistry-in-england/

ADG: Dentists set for post-Covid ‘horror show’ as millions of Brits pull own teeth out during lockdown

Millions of people have been pulling their own teeth out and attempting to treat their cavities at home since lockdown started.

A new poll by the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) reveals the shocking full extent of ‘DIY dentistry’ that has been undertaken across the UK this year. It is part of a major campaign that the ADG has launched calling on ministers to take action to deal with a worsening crisis in access to UK dentistry.

Pollsters found that a staggering 25% of households across the UK have attempted at least one form of DIY dentistry – including taking painkillers.

Within the 25% figure, the polling suggests that:

  • Someone has taken painkillers for tooth or gum pain in 12.7% of households / 3.5m homes
  • Someone has attempted to treat a cavity in a tooth 7.9% of households / 2.2m homes
  • Someone has attempted to extract a tooth in 7.6% of households / 2.1m homes

Many surgeries reopened last month after being shut during lockdown, but strict rules mean they can only deal with just a few patients a day.

The poll findings will add to dentists’ mounting concerns about the scale of the problems they will encounter when routine appointments start again. The problems look set to be compounded by falling numbers of NHS dentists in many parts of the UK. The UK already has the lowest numbers of dentists per capita among comparable Western countries.

ADG chair Neil Carmichael said: “Pulling your own teeth out is rarely a good idea as it can damage the surrounding teeth and lead to long-term problems. These findings suggest that when routine appointments restart, dentists across the country should brace themselves for an oral health horror show.

“All of the signs are that dentists will be called upon to repair the damage caused by broken and knocked out teeth – on top of a host of other oral health problems that lockdown has been storing up.

“This would be bad enough if we did not already have an access crisis in dentistry with many people struggling to get appointments. Ministers must now take urgent action to ensure that the we have the NHS dentists we need to deal with what’s around the corner.”

ADG: New figures show ‘dentists are deserting the NHS and poorest patients are paying the price’

The Association of Dental Groups has responded to the recent publication of the NHS Dental Statistics for England 2019-2020. The statistics reveal that overall, the number of dentists with NHS activity in England went up slightly – from 24,545 in 2018/19 to 24,684 in 2019/20.

But they also reveal significant regional disparities – with 65 NHS clinical commissioning groups seeing dentist numbers go down over the past year. At seven NHS clinical commissioning groups, dentist numbers declined by 20% or more from 2018-19 to 2019-2020.

Neil Carmichael, Chair of the ADG, said: “The figures are just the latest proof that the number of dentists working in the NHS is plummeting in many of the areas where they are most needed. In large parts of the country, dentists are deserting the NHS and it is the poorest patients who are often paying the price. That’s why we urgently need to increase the pipeline of new dentists here in the UK while also making it easier for overseas professionals to enter UK dentistry.”

 

The NHS Dental Statistics for England 2019-2020 can be accessed here: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/nhs-dental-statistics

Workforce figures are taken from Table B1 in Annex 2 – Geographical breakdown of dental data.

They show that NHS Fareham and Gosport CCG, NHS Isle of Wight CCG, NHS Portsmouth CCG, NHS South Eastern Hampshire CCG, Southampton CCG and NHS Bassetlaw CCG saw a percentage difference of 20% or more from 2018/19 to 2019/2020.

ADG members consist of group providers of NHS and private dentistry across England and Wales. Find more information about the ADG on their website here.

ADG launches campaign as Covid-19 takes its toll on the nation’s oral health

The Association of Dental Groups has launched a national campaign calling on ministers to take urgent action to deal with the growing crisis in access to dentistry.

Ten weeks after dental practices started to re-open, the ADG is exploring the impact that lockdown has had on the national’s oral health. The centrepiece of the campaign will be new analysis showing how different parts of the country have been affected by Covid-19 restrictions.

The analysis will be shared with MPs and policy makers to ensure they are aware of how Covid-19 has further exacerbated existing problems with access to dentistry in constituencies across the UK.

It will include several recommendations for ministers to take forward to deal with the crisis in access to dentistry, with the focus on securing an increase in recruitment and retention of dentists.

The new campaign has been launched with a comment article here by Neil Carmichael, chair of the ADG.

Neil Carmichael says: Few dentists are looking forward to seeing the full impact that lockdown has had on the nation’s teeth. But while dentists are already sounding alarm about where lockdown has left us, this is just the latest part of a bigger crisis we are seeing in UK dentistry. The reality is that Covid has made the situation worse and we will shortly be bringing forward new analysis that sets out just how bad it has become. At this stage, all of the signs point to a worrying picture with lockdown having led to less patients being seen and some of the most vulnerable groups being hit hardest.

“Our goals are attracting and training people here in the UK to become dentists and reforming the registration process for overseas dentists to work for NHS dentistry which has been exacerbated by lockdown and Brexit.”