​Child health inequalities must be taken seriously, says BDA

26 January 2017

The BDA commends the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) for including oral health in its comprehensive, though shocking, landmark report on child health and wellbeing in the UK.

The State of Child Health, published today, brings together data for the first time on a list of 25 measures, including oral health and mortality.

It points out that the UK ranks 15 out of 19 Western European countries on infant (under one year of age) mortality and has one of the highest rates for children and young people in Western Europe. The RCPCH has expressed concern that nearly one in five children is living in poverty and inequality is blighting their lives, with those from the most deprived backgrounds experiencing much worse health compared with the most affluent.

It also notes that despite improvements in dental health, tooth decay remains a significant public health issue. This is particularly the case for deprived populations where children are less likely to have good oral hygiene practices and more likely to have high sugar diets; these risks are often coupled with poorer access to dental care.

It explains why oral health is an important indicator of a child's development and their quality of life, and emphasises the importance of having timely access to dental services for preventative advice and early diagnosis of dental caries, with targeted access to vulnerable groups.

The British Dental Association's scientific adviser, Professor Damien Walmsley, said:

"The RCPCH's report provides a helpful and informative snapshot of child health across the four nations in the UK. It's also great to see that oral health has been recognised as an important measure of our children's health and wellbeing.

"Nonetheless, it is depressing that the RCPCH confirms that the health of children in the UK has not improved at the same rate as in other wealthy countries and the stark inequalities in health have widened.

"The report, which benefits from dental expertise, provides clear guidance on how this situation can be reversed. It also echoes the BDA's own recommendations which the government must heed if it is serious about closing the alarming gap between rich and poor."

About the BDA

The British Dental Association (BDA) is the voice of dentists and dental students in the UK. We bring dentists together, support our members through advice and education, and represent their interests. As a trade union and professional body, we represent all fields of dentistry including general practice, community dental services, the armed forces, hospitals, academia, public health and research. We are owned and run by our members and all our income is reinvested for the benefit of the profession.

For further information, please contact the BDA's media team on 0207 563 4145/46 or visit the BDA's news centre. You can also follow news from the BDA on Twitter. Membership packages reflect the varied needs of dentists.