BSPD: Workforce is critical to tackling the unacceptably high levels of dental decay in children and young people

The current number of specialists in paediatric dentistry is insufficient to meet the oral health needs of children and young people.  More specialists and consultants are required as well as training in enhanced skills in paediatric dentistry for General Dental Practitioners (GDPs).

The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) voices its concern on the shortfall of specialists following on from today’s press release from the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England (FDS RCSEng). Their release highlights the unacceptably high number of dental extractions under general anaesthetic caused by dental decay.  

While supporting the call from FDS for the roll-out of supervised tooth brushing schemes in early years settings and for a renewed commitment to sugar taxes, BSPD spokesperson Claire Stevens highlights the complexity of the current challenges facing the dental profession. 

For too long, she says, the marketing of high sugar foods and drinks aimed at children and young people has accelerated. Every Christmas, for instance, the Coke Tour involves huge trucks going to some of the most deprived parts of the country where drinks are given out for free. 

Dr Stevens said: “Covid-19 has deepened the challenges faced by the dental profession. Post lockdown, dental treatment has been successfully restarted, yet there is an estimated reduction in capacity of 50-65% due to essential measures to minimise the risk of viral transmission and protect staff and patients. Sadly, the number of children requiring hospital-based treatment caused by dental decay is going to remain constant as we have no choice but to anaesthetise very young children who need extensive restorations or extractions.
“However, at the same time as ensuring we have the workforce to carry out these treatments, we also need prevention programmes to help families rethink children’s diets and reduce sugar consumption. We would like to ensure that all children are regularly brushing their teeth both at home while the very young should experience supervised toothbrushing programmes in early years settings. The evidence shows that such schemes deliver an excellent return on investment.”
Dr Stevens added: “We would like to encourage all local authorities with areas of high dental need to introduce water fluoridation schemes. 45% fewer children aged 1 to 4 in fluoridated areas are admitted to hospital for tooth decay than those in non-fluoridated areas.”
“Following on from its excellent green paper on prevention, we would like to see the government delivering on its commitment to extend oral health interventions, supported by all organisations involved in the care and well-being of children and young people. Children’s oral health is everybody’s business.”