The number of child dental checks halved during the past year of lockdowns compared to 2019, sparking fears that millions of children could now face a lifetime of rotten teeth and may need operations. The Telegraph has the story.
NHS figures show the number undergoing check-ups fell by 50% during the first year of the pandemic, with the worst trends seen among the youngest age groups.
In total, the number of under-15s who saw a dentist fell from 5.8 million to 2.9 million – a fall of half in just in one year.
This means less than three in ten children underwent checks, compared with nearly six in ten the year before.
The youngest children were least likely to have had check ups, with many likely to have never seen a dentist at all, experts said.
There were just 468,000 appointments for under-5s in 2020, a 60% fall from almost 1.2 million the year before, the figures show. This means just one in seven children under the age of five saw a dentist last year – compared with one in three in 2019.
Dentists said the lack of check-ups in the early years could leave a generation at risk of tooth decay, and forced to endure hospital operations, which could have been avoided with preventive care.
Tooth decay is already the most common reason for children aged five to nine to be admitted to hospital, with many enduring surgery under anaesthetic for want of preventive care earlier.
Latest annual figures show the number of admissions are twice those for acute tonsillitis, among children aged five to nine.
The new figures show millions of children have missed basic dental checks and treatment since the start of the pandemic.
“The current situation is truly shocking.” says Dr Saul Konviser, from the charity Dental Wellness Trust.
“Even before the pandemic, tooth decay amongst children was extremely worrying but the events of the past eighteen months have exacerbated things massively.
“Amongst some of the children that needed fillings, they now need extractions. The list of emergency appointments is growing by the day as we are scrambling to catch up.”
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