New statistics show a worrying decline in oral health, with 2 in 5 Liverpool children now showing evidence of dental decay.
The dental survey which normally takes place every two years measures instances and severity of dental cavities amongst 5-year-olds attending mainstream schools in England.
Survey data was collected in 2022 by NHS Trusts who provide community dental services and are part of the National Dental Programme in England.
Newly released data reveals that instances of dental decay in Liverpool has now risen from 37% in 2019 to 43.5% in 2022 – suggesting limited progress is being made towards tackling childhood tooth decay in England – despite oral health being a key element in how health inequalities for children and young people can be reduced.
Of the 316 children examined across Liverpool, results show there was an average of 2.1 decayed, missing, or filled teeth – a rise from 1.4 at the last survey.
Additional data from the ‘Episodes of children and young adults being admitted to hospital for tooth extractions’ (2021 to 2022) also reveals 440 cases of tooth extractions in children and young people in Liverpool – with 70% occurring in children aged 10 and under.
Teeth extraction is the most common reason for hospital admission in children aged five to nine years old with those living in the most deprived communities are around 3.5 times more likely to have teeth removed.
Dr Yvonne Dailey, Consultant in Dental Public Health at NHS England (North West) said: “Inequalities in the levels of experience of dental decay in 5-year-olds living in different parts of the country and in different life circumstances persists, therefore reducing inequality of children’s oral health must be a priority, for all.”
Professor Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Liverpool said “Dental decay among young children remains an important public health issue in this city and is ultimately a preventable disease.”
It’s also something Liverpool’s Health and Wellbeing Board discussed at length at its last meeting.
Dental decay can have a big impact on school readiness, and create difficulties in sleeping, eating, and socialising for children of all ages.
Dental pain can also cause distress, impact on attendance and performance at school and for many children it leads to having multiple teeth extracted under general anaesthetic.
Good oral health is promoted via Liverpool’s Children’s Centres but the ‘Mini Mouthcare Matters’ campaign is also being rolled out across the wider community in partnership with Alder Hey.
Next month, Liverpool’s Public Health team will re-launch their award winning ‘Save Kids from Sugar’ campaign, which spotlights the high levels of sugar in popular items, such as children’s branded breakfast cereals and drinks, and will include resources that can be used in schools.