Recently published data from the NHS has revealed that well over a third of children are missing out on NHS dental care – even when it is free. This translates to almost 5 million children not seeing a dentist at least once a year as recommended by leading health bodies. So why are so many children not having a regular checkup and what are the risks? With the focus on children going back to school, now is the perfect time to look at the issue.
The confusion factor
One of the reasons that was identified for the poor statistics for children’s visits to the dentist is confusion among parents about what exactly is covered by free dental care and who is eligible. An increasing number of adults are avoiding checkups and treatments because of the associated costs, but are unaware that all children under the age of 18 are entitled to free routine checkups.and dental care regardless of their financial situation.
The dangers of decay
The biggest risk for children who do not see the dentist on a regular basis is tooth decay. Another area of confusion is over the role of ‘milk’ teeth and whether or not decay on these early teeth is anything to worry about. Whilst these teeth do indeed give way to the new teeth that become your permanent adult teeth, it is now known that excessive decay can spread beyond the visible teeth and affect the underlying adult teeth that haven’t even emerged – risking substantial problems later on in adult life.
Tooth decay can also result in children having to undergo surgery to remove teeth. Although this is generally painless, it is nonetheless distressing for both children and parents alike. Given that such situations are entirely preventable with a good oral hygiene regime, the importance of seeing the dentist is highlighted.
The statistics published by the NHS also reveal that tooth decay is also now the leading cause for children to be admitted to hospital.
When to start seeing the dentist
Another area of confusion among parents is when to start taking their children to the dentist. Simply put, the best time is as early as possible – even if only to get them used to visiting. It is recommended to bring your baby or toddler along with you for your own checkups to help them become used to the environment and reduce the likelihood of fear developing later. As soon as teeth begin to come through, they can begin having their own checkups, meaning that any problems will be identified at the earliest possible stage.
Parents can also help at this stage by encouraging young children to learn about the dentist through various activities and games – ask your dentist for more advice and tips.
Here at Gwersyllt Dental Practice, we pride ourselves in offering a proactive approach to preventative dental care for all the family. We provide the highest standards of dentistry in a friendly and relaxing environment. To find out more about becoming a member of our practice or to book an appointment now, call us on 01978 757409 or click here to book an appointment online.