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Dental health is strongly linked with inequality

More children are having rotten teeth taken out. The number of multiple tooth extractions from children’s mouths has been increasing over the last five years to nearly 43,000 in 2016-17. The cost of tooth extractions for under-18s in hospitals now tops £90 million a year.

The Local Government Association calls it an “oral health crisis.”

A recent report to Sheffield’s Health Scrutiny Committee, which I am a member of, said poor oral health leads to “pain, discomfort, time off work and school, self-consciousness and low self-esteem.”

The main reason I asked the Scrutiny Committee to look at dental health was because it is strongly linked with inequality. Children living in the most deprived areas of Sheffield have tooth decay four times worse than those in the least deprived areas.  This is something we need to address in our city.

It is too late by the time the child needs teeth extracting.  Our committee felt there should be more work to prevent tooth decay in the first place. Many schools are now teaching about healthy teeth and diets and the damage done by soft drinks.  Some schools offer “tooth-brushing clubs.”  Other schools and people working with children also need to pay attention as serious neglect of children’s teeth can indicate other forms of hidden child abuse. Get the teeth right and it can really help children get a better start in life.

Cllr Douglas Johnson,
Green Party, City Ward

Topics: City Ward, City Wide, Douglas Johnson, Featured, Health, Letters to the press