To mark National Toothache Day on 9 February, Steve McCabe MP is stepping up his calls for urgent action to tackle the scandal of childhood tooth decay. He’s further highlighting an issue which sees 160 youngsters having their teeth taken out under anaesthesia in England every day.
As part of National Toothache Day people across the UK are being encouraged to learn more about their oral health, and take steps towards improving the condition of their teeth. It is especially important that parents are teaching their children to brush their teeth properly and educating them about how to avoid tooth decay. Steve McCabe recently wrote to the Chancellor pressing him to take immediate action to tackle the problem and asking that he commit to utilising money from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to support a new national preventative oral health programme but says he’s extremely angry that the Chancellor is trying to simply bat the issue back to the Dept of Health and Social Care when it’s obviously a question of money and the Chancellor’s the one with his hands on the ‘sugar tax’ cash.
The scale of this scandal was really brought home last month when it was revealed by aid workers that the oral health of children in the UK is worse than in some poverty stricken parts of Africa. It was reported that charity Dentaid, which works across Africa, Asia and Central America, has set up temporary dental surgeries in Britain to help cope with the scale of problems with children’s oral health. In Birmingham, 29% of five year olds now suffer tooth decay which is significantly higher than the national average. Hospital tooth extractions for under 18s have been rising year on year and have almost doubled in the last four years.
Steve launched his Healthy Smiles for Birmingham campaign in April last year to end the scandal of escalating child tooth extractions in Birmingham. Since then the MP has been calling for an early intervention scheme to improve oral health outcomes for children while reducing the financial burden on the NHS of tooth extractions which cost over £50m a year. He is also calling for better oral health education, improved access to children’s dental services and greater efforts to address high levels of sugar consumption. Steve led a debate in Parliament in October where he set out the scale of the problem which saw 45,000 children admitted to hospital in 2016 for tooth extractions under general anaesthetic as a result of preventable tooth decay. MPs from across the political spectrum spoke about the need to do more to tackle.
Steve McCabe MP said:
“The statistics around childhood tooth decay are truly shocking. It’s absolutely scandalous that tooth decay, an almost entirely preventable condition, is the number one reason why children are admitted to hospital. Addressing tooth decay is not complicated – we know what works, education and early intervention can make a real difference. Painful, costly extractions and risky operations for children are not the answer and the prospect of poorer health outcomes across their lifespan should be reason enough to invest in preventative policies to make good childhood oral health, something every child in every region of the UK can enjoy.
“National toothache day is a really good opportunity for us all to think about our dental health. While it is vital that we all have access to excellent dental services there is a lot we can all do at home to better take care of our teeth and prevent serious problems down the line.”