A survey carried out by the Department of Health on the oral health of the Island’s 5 year old children, shows that the prevalence of tooth decay at this young age is 29%.
Of over 200 children on the Island who were examined for the survey, 29% had experienced tooth decay, which is a similar rate to that in England where the level is approximately 28%. In a similar UK survey, results showed that in the North West of England nearly 35% of children aged 5 suffer from tooth decay.
Minister for Health, Hon Howard Quayle MHK, said: “One of the aims of the Department’s Oral Health Strategy 2011 – 2016, is to reduce the prevalence of tooth decay, especially in young children to at least the average of the North West of England by 2016. The survey result showing that 29% of the children examined have experienced tooth decay is certainly a step in the right direction, when compared with the figure of 35% in the North West. This is a modest improvement and I commend the hard work of our dental professionals, schools and nurseries for raising the profile of dental health through education and support of both parents and children. There is, as always, the need to be vigilant and continue to improve the overall health of our nation’s children by understanding the influence of healthy choices on wellbeing and good oral health.”
The survey also showed that on average, 5 year old children on the Island have 1.11 decayed, missing or filled teeth, compared to the highest incidence of decay in England at 1.29 teeth in the North West. It isn’t possible to compare this survey with those carried out prior to 2007, as the methodology is different, but it is expected that in years to come, an improving trend will emerge.
Carolyn Lewis, Clinical Director of the Salaried Dental Service, said: “Families with young children and dentists are working together to improve the oral health of this generation. By understanding the impact of healthy lifestyle choices such as reducing sugar intake, brushing twice a day and visiting the dentist regularly for advice and preventative treatment, we can reduce the risk of decay and loss of teeth. Good oral health throughout life is important, but especially at a young age, as active decay results in toothache, pain while eating, sleeplessness and crying, all of which impact behaviour, learning and development.”