Wirral MP calls for improved dental care for all children
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20 Dec 2023
Margaret Greenwood MP is calling on the government to develop a comprehensive national children’s oral health strategy to reduce waiting times and focus on targeted preventive measures, early intervention and improved access to high-quality dental care for all children, regardless of socioeconomic status or location.
She is also calling on the government to urgently address the shortage of specialists in paediatric dentistry as it emerged that there are only around 170 full time equivalent dentists specialising in working with children working in England, and around 200 across the UK.
The Wirral West MP’s intervention came in the form of two Early Day Motions (EDMs) that she has tabled in parliament.
The EDMs can be viewed via the links below:
Tooth decay is one of the most common causes of hospital admission in young children, despite the fact that it is largely preventable. According to government statistics, as of 2022, 23.7% of five year-olds in England experienced dentinal decay, with notable regional disparities, ranging from 19.1% in the South West to 30.6% in the North West.
Statistics also showed that children living in the most deprived areas were almost three times as likely to have experience of dentinal decay as those living in the least deprived areas.
Commenting after tabling her Early Day Motions, Margaret Greenwood MP said:
“Timely and routine access to dental care is a fundamental aspect of children's health and wellbeing.
"It is extremely important that children get the care they need to minimise the risk of dental decay and toothache.
“As I have highlighted in the Early Day Motions, poor oral health in children can affect a child’s ability to eat, smile and socialise. It can also lead to them having to take time off school.
“The government should develop a comprehensive national children’s oral health strategy to secure a healthier future for children as a matter of urgency.
“That strategy should be led by the Department of Health and Social Care, and it should be developed in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders, including specialist paediatric dentists who have expertise in providing comprehensive oral healthcare for children and adolescents.
“There is a real shortage of specialist paediatric dentists, and it was disappointing that the recent government-backed NHS Long Term Workforce plan made no specific reference to training more of them.
“It is incredibly important that all children can access dental care in a timely manner.
“We need to see a real focus from the government on boosting numbers of specialist paediatric dentists, on reducing waiting times for treatment and on prevention and early intervention.”
Promoted by and on behalf of Margaret Greenwood MP, 20 Rushworth Street, London SE1 0SS