Helping children’s oral health in Cornwall

Back in April, I got a good insight to some of the issues surrounding children’s oral health in Cornwall. It was frankly shocking, and you can recap HERE. You have to ask yourself why so many children are having their teeth extracted for tooth decay. As an estimated 99% of teeth extraction are considered as preventable. The main causes are poor diet and dental hygiene.

To recap, 830 young people under the age of 18 in Cornwall had teeth extracted under general anaesthetic in 2011/12. The total number of teeth extracted as 2,503, which is an average of three teeth per child. Of these extracted teeth, 1,973 were first teeth and 530 second. Nationally more than a third of children have suffered tooth decay, missing teeth or fillings by age five, yes five! There is a clear link between tooth decay and poverty; with some parts of the UK seeing as many as three-quarters of children are affected. The Cornwall context, showed approximately a quarter[1] of five-year olds had tooth decay.

The Council, Public Health and PCH Dental recognise the issues and are working together to tackle tooth decay in Cornwall. There is no easy fix, as this is a long-term programme; but working in partnership will reduce tooth decay in Cornwall. I would like to say eradicate, but I am a realist.

This new joint programme will deliver oral health session in ten locations across Cornwall. The aim of the programme will give support, advice and information on how to look after oral health to local young families. The teams from PCH Dental and the Council will work with young parents groups to help keep their children’s teeth and gums healthy. It is no good just teaching the children, you have to tackle this issue in a family unit. This new joint venture builds on the successful programme with St Meriodoc which engaged 100 children during the three-month trail.

This programme is just the first stages of partnership working between the Council, Public Health and PCH Dental, as more is planned for the whole of Cornwall. I am heartened to see what can be achieved by us working together, and look forward to working with these organisations to tackle tooth decay in our young people.

[1] British Association for the study of community dentistry 2012