The latest UK Children’s Dental Health Survey, just released today, shows dramatic improvements in child oral health in Northern Ireland. The proportion of 5 year old children who have been affected by dental decay dropped from 61% in 2003 to 40% in 2013.
For 12 year olds in Northern Ireland, the improvement was also impressive – falling from 73% in 2003 to 57% in 2013.
Every 10 years, the Children’s Dental Health Survey takes places across the UK. The most recent survey shows that the dental health of children in Northern Ireland has improved more than that of children in England and Wales.
Speaking about the survey, Michael Donaldson, Head of Dental Services at the Health and Social Care Board said,
“This is a terrific result for Northern Ireland. For many years, tooth decay levels have been very high and have proved difficult to reduce but a province-wide programme introduced under the Investing for Health banner in 2005 is now bearing fruit. Family dentists and, in particular, the Community Dental Services in local Trusts deserve a great deal of credit. They have implemented supervised tooth-brushing schemes and toothpaste distribution programmes aimed at children most risk of developing tooth decay. Today, we are seeing the benefits of all this hard work.”
He continued “There is still room for improvement as recent analysis shows an increase in family sugar consumption over the last ten years in Northern Ireland. By reducing overall dietary intake of sugars, even further improvements in child dental health could be gained, and our children would also enjoy general health benefits as they grow into adults.”
The ten yearly Child Dental Health Survey is conducted across the UK (Scotland did not take part this time). Children aged 5, 8,12 and 15 years complete questionnaires and receive an oral examination. The full results are available on the Health and Social Care Information website: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB17137