The British Dental Association (BDA) has applauded recommendations from the London Assembly in their new report 'Keeping the Tooth Fairy Away', addressing child oral health inequalities across the capital.
The report has backed key recommendations from the BDA, including support for supervised tooth brushing in every early years settings and a media campaign to promote uptake of NHS dental services to parents of young children. The paper also calls on the Mayor to encourage all London schools to go sugar free.
Official data has shown that a quarter (26%) of 5-year-olds in London suffer from decay - making the capital the third worst area in England in terms of oral health outcomes after the North West and Yorkshire and Humber, with massive inequalities between different London boroughs.
When it gave evidence to the London Assembly the BDA had expressed grave concerns that London has the lowest attendance rates of any English region, with 18 out of 20 councils with the lowest proportions of children attending NHS dental services being London boroughs. In Hackney, two thirds of children (68%) are missing out on free dental care.
Ten of the London boroughs have seen a marked deterioration in children's outcomes over the last two years, with children in areas like Camden and Sutton up to 25% more likely to suffer from tooth decay now than they were two years ago.
Unlike administrations in Wales and Scotland, England lacks a dedicated and properly resourced national programme for children's oral health. Tooth decay remains the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children.
The report also acknowledges the imperative to properly integrate oral health into the wider health agenda, notably in tackling problems such as obesity, to have appropriate dental expertise on other health task forces and to involve non-dental health professionals in oral health promotion.
The BDA's Len D'Cruz, an NHS dentist in the London Borough of Redbridge, who gave oral evidence to the London Assembly, said: 'This is precisely the sort of leadership we need to see from authorities in London. Children's oral health has been slipping back across the capital, and investment, engagement and education are key.
'Mayor Khan has made a commitment to make London the world's healthiest city. He now has a clear blueprint to achieve that goal with our children's teeth.
'This city can set a gold standard that the rest of England needs to follow.'
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BDA applauds Mayor Khan's commitment to child oral health. Br Dent J 226, 923 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-019-0492-3