Dentistry

Fall in Child Dental Checks During Lockdown Sparks Fears of Generation With Poor Dental Health

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.”

Worth reading in full.

NHS Dental Patients Are Being Forced to Wait for up to Three Years for an Appointment

NHS dental surgery waiting lists have gotten so long that patients are being forced to wait until 2024 for an appointment, according to a new report. Waiting lists were long before 2020, and have only been made worse by lockdowns. Some people, unable to wait in pain, have gone into debt to meet private dentistry bills, while others have turned to pulling their teeth out themselves and performing “DIY fillings”. The Mail has the story.

A number of surgeries have thousands on their waiting lists and others have closed their books to new patients.

But some of the same practices will offer an appointment within a week to those who can afford to pay privately, according to research by Healthwatch England.

It found that one in three patients have felt pressured into paying for private care because of unbearable pain. Others say they have been driven into debt to meet dentistry bills.

Those who are unable to go private can be left waiting for up to three years to be seen, the report finds. Even emergency care entails waits of up to six weeks.

The delays can lead to “worsening of their dental problems and losing their teeth”, the report says. Healthwatch England claims public opinion of NHS dentistry has never been lower and highlights a “twin crisis” of lack of access and affordability. 

The number of dental surgeries offering NHS treatment fell from 9,661 in 2014/15 to 8,408 in 2019/20. The British Dental Association said dentistry was the only part of the NHS operating on a lower budget than a decade ago.

Spokesman Shawn Charlwood said: “For too long meaningful reform of NHS dentistry has been repeatedly kicked down the road. Covid has pushed a system already in crisis to breaking point, with millions left with no options.”

The Healthwatch England report highlights the case of a patient who needed hospital treatment after they overdosed on the painkillers they were taking to ease their dental problems.

Others have been told to use DIY filling kits or have been prescribed antibiotics with no prospect of a follow-up appointment to treat the underlying problem.

Some who called NHS 111 seeking emergency care were told to “use salt water” and carry on calling dental practices until they could find help. Waiting times just to get through to a surgery can be over an hour…

Four in five of those who contacted the organisation in the first three months of the year said they had struggled to access care quickly enough. And the number of complaints it received about dentistry was up 22% on last year.

Worth reading in full.

A Dentist Writes…

Dr Mark Shaw, a retired dentist who’s contributed before to Lockdown Sceptics, has written a guest post about his decision not to have the jab.

At University it was drummed into our heads not to make assumptions. Base clinical decisions on rigorously tested clinical evidence that had endured analysis, audit and surveillance over a sufficiently long duration.

Do you get frustrated when you so often hear assumptions being made that are presented as facts? The Government and MSM frequently refer to the number of Covid cases and deaths plummeting as a result of lockdowns and vaccination – not because this might, much more plausibly, be due to the natural falling from a peak or wave that respiratory viral infections always follow. Do you get frustrated when you hear that the current health, education, justice, social and economic issues (and just about every other dilemma under the sun) are being blamed on the Coronavirus but not on the Government response to it?

Policy makers are guilty, not just of this spin and deceit, but also of carrying out a fatal gambler’s mistake. The punter places a bet which fails, so he optimistically places another to try to at least recoup the value of the last stake. A sensible gambler might stop, pause and re-evaluate the situation and ensure that he or she can afford to pursue a certain strategy financially and healthily. An irresponsible person carries on regardless. The Government’s whole response to the Coronavirus situation smacks of this behaviour: “We’ve gone this far, we must continue to look credible despite the errors and dire consequences – so let’s carry on, keep deceiving and frightening the public until our credibility is restored by eliminating the virus.” The vaccine was the ace in the Government’s pack because a tired public (even ardent lockdown sceptics) were ready to accept anything just to get out of this horrendous mess. I have already mentioned just how unethical this project is in one of my previous articles.