Call now on0800 051 8069
A blog by Franceska Krence on how your postcode may determine your access to dental care.
Back in 2018, a survey was conducted by Mumsnet for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), assessing the parents’ knowledge of children’s oral health and experience of accessing dental care. It found that 23% had problems accessing free NHS dental care, either for themselves during pregnancy and in the early days of their motherhood, or for their children.
After the survey, Dr Elizabeth O’Sullivan of the RCPCH and Consultant in Paediatric Dentistry at City Health Care Partnership CIC said, “Currently, there is a postcode lottery in children’s oral health with some areas providing high quality interventions and awareness campaigns while others do not. This means there are pockets of children up and own the country missing out on the services that are provided free of charge to others in neighbouring towns and cities. Surely it is easier to prevent poor dental health rather than try and treat it when it’s too late?”
Recently the National Smile Month 2022 took place. According to Nigel Carter, the Oral Health Foundation’s chief executive, a postcode lottery still exists in NHS dental care. At the launch of the National Smile Month, Nigel called for the government to put and end to the vast inequalities in oral health that cause tens of thousands of people to suffer in pain.
Whilst urging the government to focus on addressing critical problems with access to NHS dentistry and the need to train more dentist, Nigel said, “Oral health varies around the UK – it is a postcode lottery. This isn’t going to go away overnight as the dentists just aren’t there. It does seem that there isn’t a wish to address the problem and train more dentists.”
“Whether that dentistry is being delivered on the NHS, or the private sector, it is not possible without an adequate workforce.”
“You really can’t achieve good health and wellbeing without good oral health. That’s why during National Smile Month, we are calling for a levelling up agenda so that everybody can achieve the standards of oral health that they really deserve.”
Tooth decay is one of the most common diseases in the UK. One-in-three (33 per cent) adults have signs of tooth decay, as well as around one-in-four (24 per cent) five-year-olds. Those from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to suffer from tooth decay and be admitted to hospital because of it. Last week, it was revealed that 14,615 children in England had rotten teeth removed in hospital between 2020-21. Tooth decay and other oral diseases can have a negative impact throughout life and can cause pain, infection and lead to difficulties with eating, sleeping, socialising and wellbeing. Campaigners are extremely concerned that oral health has declined during the pandemic.
The Oral Health Foundation is campaigning to make healthier food and drink, that contains less sugar, more affordable for families on lower incomes. It is tragic to see the recent government decision to delay the ban on cheap offers on unhealthy foods. Far from helping in these times of inflation, the move is likely to store up greater problems with both oral and general health and to cost both individuals and the country more in the future.
The charity also believes a nationwide water fluoridation programme will drastically cut rates of tooth decay, especially in children. Currently, only 11 per cent of the population benefit from fluoride being added to their water supply. Research shows that in fluoridated areas, the number of hospital admissions (for tooth decay) falls by between 45 per cent and 68 per cent.
Health leaders are also keen to raise awareness about how the health of your mouth has a direct link to the health of your body. Studies have shown that poor oral health, specifically severe gum disease, can lead to increased risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes, dementia and poor pregnancy outcomes.