London is stepping up and has set out some ground-breaking recommendations to safeguard children's teeth, and we are really pleased to have played a part in, helping to guide the London Assembly's new plan.
Last year, we worked hard to get the poor state of children's teeth in London recognised by the London Mayor, and we were delighted to be asked to give evidence at the London Assembly Health Committee's investigation into child dental health in March.
We highlighted that a quarter of 5-year old's (26%) in London have tooth decay, making London the third worst area for poor oral health and that there are some massive inequalities between some London boroughs.
We pointed out that the capital has some of the lowest dental attendance rates in England, and in areas like Hackney, 68% of children are missing out on free NHS dental care.
To help make our case to the London Assembly, we asked you, our members, to give your views, and you told us about the shocking things you are dealing with on a daily basis. You said there had been a lack of improvement over the last 20 years and voiced your frustrations with no-one really committing to supporting prevention.
For us, the lack of a dedicated and properly-resourced national programme for children's oral health is the missing piece of the puzzle.
Your evidence has helped the London Assembly's report recommend a supervised brushing scheme for every school in London; tackling low attendance rates (particularly for under-2s); the need to highlight that NHS dental care is free for children and that claw back from dental contracts need to be ring-fenced for reducing oral health inequalities.
The report also highlights the need to properly integrate oral health in the wider health agenda, tackling problems such as obesity, and to have appropriate dental expertise on other health task forces and to involve non-dental health professionals in oral health promotion – we have been calling for joined-up thinking for some time, and it's great to see the Assembly on board with this.
We really welcome local authorities in London leading on this agenda, and we hope it sets a gold standard that the rest of England will follow.
Len D'Cruz, GDP
BDA Senior Dento-legal Advisor
Improving oral health: prevention first
We campaign on a range of issues for better working lives for dentists and we work to improve the oral health of the nation.
Through our policy and campaigning work, we ensure that the concerns of all sections of the profession are raised and that dentists' voices are heard at a national level: join us.