News & media News New statistics on childhood tooth decay suggest concerning lack of progress 23 March 2020 Leading charity, the Oral Health Foundation, is calling for a united effort to take action against the ongoing issue of childhood tooth decay. The concern for the oral health and general wellbeing of children has been prompted by the release of new statistics from Public Health England (PHE) that reveal around one-in-four (23%) of 5-year-olds in 2019 have had dental decay.1 These findings are identical to the results of the previous survey in 2017 which suggests that no progress has been made towards tackling an unacceptable level of childhood tooth decay in England. Speaking on the need to address these figures, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation said: “In 2020 and the years to come, we can make progress to tackle a heart-breaking level of childhood tooth decay and protect the future of the nation’s oral health. “No child should be born into a world where they have a one-in-four chance of having decayed teeth on their fifth birthday. “Over the last decade, we have seen significant progress to reduce the rate of childhood tooth decay, however it is disappointing to see advances come to a halt in recent years and far too many children are suffering needlessly. “Tooth decay is almost entirely preventable, yet it remains the number one reason for childhood hospital admissions for general anaesthesia in the UK. “We can put an end to this by making positive dietary changes. Reducing how much and how often children have sugar while introducing healthier foods like fruits and vegetables can help them avoid tooth decay and obesity. “Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste is also absolutely essential for people of all ages. It can aid dental health by making tooth enamel stronger and more resistant to tooth decay. “Introducing water fluoridation schemes could dramatically improve the oral health of children across the nation, especially in the most deprived communities. Currently, less than 10% of the UK population are supplied with fluoridated water and this is not enough to bring about the change that we all want to see.” The survey conducted by PHE also revealed that children from more deprived areas (34%) are more than twice as likely to have dental decay compared to those from less deprived areas (14%). “At the Oral Health Foundation, we strongly believe that prevention is better than a cure,” continued Dr Carter. “We can be part of the solution and help countless children avoid the unnecessary pain and distress caused by this problem. “Throughout 2020 and beyond, we will continue to promote campaigns like National Smile Month that help foster healthier communities and reduce unacceptable inequalities in oral health. “Through our range of educational resources, we will continue to give health providers, professionals and public bodies the tools their need to champion oral health across the UK, helping the most vulnerable and at-risk groups. “These resources can play a vital role in supporting the oral health of children and educating them on how to achieve a healthy smile from an early age. “You’re never too young to learn about your oral health. Our Dental Buddy programme provides curriculum-based resources that can help engage children of all ages on the importance of a healthy mouth. “We cannot do it without you. Your support is crucial to allow us to continue providing vital services, advice and guidance for many people across the UK. “Together we will change lives across the country for the better by helping people of all ages achieve better oral health.” For more information on tooth decay and to support the Oral Health Foundation in their mission to bring better oral health to all, visit www.dentalhealth.org. If you are a dental professional who would like to help us deliver oral health education to schools in your local area please contact us by emailing [email protected]. Alternatively, if you would like to browse our range of educational resources, please head to www.dentalhealthshop.org. References UK. 2020. Oral Health Survey Of 5-Year-Old Children 2019. [online] Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/oral-health-survey-of-5-year-old-children-2019> [Accessed 20 March 2020].