Br Dent J 2016:221: 173–178

When oral health is neglected in adults the impacts are bad. When oral health is neglected in children the impacts are worse as the consequences of poor oral health can also have a negative effect on the psyche of children. It can be extremely detrimental for their self esteem, and they are more likely to develop oral health complications in adulthood.

Sadly, one of the main reasons why oral health is often neglected is money, or rather the lack of it. We've all heard the old maxim that 'Health is wealth', a pithy statement that bears some truth for all, including children. However, in this BDJ article Dr Vahid Ravaghi and colleagues provide evidence to the contrary to this adage. The aim of their study was to synopsise the main effects that oral conditions have on children (and their families), between the ages of 5 to 15, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They also aimed to document key findings on oral health symptoms and perceptions.

Oral symptoms such as toothache were found to be rampant amongst all age groups. In addition, their research revealed how children eligible for free school meals (FSM), and therefore on a low income, had a higher occurrence of diseases such as caries than those children who came from a higher socioeconomic position. When children aged 12 and 15 were asked to rate their dental health, those ineligible for FSM rated their own dental health as higher than those eligible. What's more is that they found that the most significant oral impact faced by children of the latter group, was difficulty in eating and feeling embarrassed to smile. With the distinct disparity between the socioeconomic groups, it can be concluded that oral health perceptions and impacts amongst the more deprived, are substantially worse.

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Figure 1