Preventable Children’s Dentistry In Cornwall
Today, I had a very useful insight into Peninsula Community Health (PCH) excellent dental facilities at the Truro Health Park, and was allowed to attend theatre procedures at RCHT. Just to note, I will only be concentrating on the children’s aspect of dentistry in Cornwall. I said it was useful, because those medical staff who gave their time told me honestly that most of the extractions case that are carried out are preventable.
In fact, two senior dentists, who have over 75 years of professional experience between them, said 99% of cases were preventable. This is a shocking figure. If you look at the financial cost of treatment this is a staggering waste of money. It would be easy to blame the lack of NHS dentist, but this is not the case. As all the professionals I spoke to say the main culprits to poor dental are diet, and very poor dental hygiene.
Considering each general anaesthetic procedure costs an average of £500 the costs soon adds up. When the managers of PCH told me they carried out 1000 such routines each year you start to get into eye watering amounts of money that is being spent, but could be saved by better preventative work rather than having to spend it removing decayed teeth. This is in my opinion too late an action.
For me it really hit home when I attended the theatre procedures and witnessed the removal of many children’s teeth. All of the procedures today were for tooth decay. In fact, if parents were allowed to witness teeth being extracted, they might, just might, take a better interest in making sure children look after their teeth better. As the extractions are carried out by medical versions of pliers. For all the care the staff give to the patient, you cannot help wince as teeth are being pulled out.
The procedures I witnessed are repeated four times a week with each ‘list’ having at least six patients. If you thought the children who had GA’s today were of an older age range, you would be wrong. The ages were six to eight years old.
I am not saying parent should stop giving sweets and sugary treats to children, as this is not my place, and is the responsibility of the parents. But more care must be taken if children want to have healthy teeth not just as children, but into adulthood too. I know as a parent myself, it made me think.
However, it did strike me wrong when the professionals informed me of parents collecting their children from surgery will a bag of sweets or other such sugar rich products. You got to question the logic, especially when a child has had several teeth removed for decay, and the parent arrives with more sugar related products.
Going forward and actually trying to address this issue, I believe more work could be carried in schools and in the home on education and helping parents prevent their children having to have teeth removed for decay. Furthermore, I am pleased at a recent successful pilot of working in schools and will be working with the various organisations to see how this could be expanded across Cornwall.
I want to say a huge thank you should go to the staff at PCH who were very willing to answer my questions. To the team in theatre who allowed me to watch today’s procedures and highlight the many concerns they have in this field. They are a credit to the hospital, and shows the dedication they have in providing a service that is nearly fully preventable.
It is only when you get to talk to professionals you really get a feel on how a service is functioning, but more importantly how to improve that service.