Child's teeth

Child dental health

Start date: 11 February 2019
End date: 31 March 2019

Children’s dental care in London

Over a quarter (26%) of 5-year-olds in London suffer from decay, which is higher than the national average (23%). This figure also hides considerable inequalities between different London boroughs, with outcomes varying from 14 per cent in Bexley to 40 per cent in Harrow. For comparison, in the best-performing local authorities in England only 5 per cent of 5-year-olds suffer from tooth decay. Worryingly, while nationally there have been slow but steady improvements in child oral health, nine of the London boroughs have seen a deterioration in children’s outcomes over the last 2 years.

Poor oral health is the number one reason for child admission to hospital in London. In 2016/17, over ten thousand (10, 853) children under the age of 15 in London were admitted to hospital for tooth extractions under a general anaesthetic due to tooth decay. More than three quarters of these admissions were for children under the age of nine.

Considering that the average cost of an extraction is £836, the NHS in London spends over £9 million on these preventable hospital admissions every year. This is on top of the significant cost of treating child tooth decay in primary care.

Key issues we want to explore

  • How poor dental health can affect children
  • Barriers to good dental health
  • Food choices
  • The link between a parent’s attitude towards going to the dentist and their child’s attendance
  • Parents’ awareness of free NHS dental care for children
  • What schools are doing
  • Variation between different areas of London
  • The groups of children the current approach isn’t reaching
  • Access requirements for different groups of London’s children
  • Action already being taken
  • What more can be done

Key questions

  • Why is dental health among London’s children so poor?
  • Why do some London boroughs appear to be going backwards on dental health outcomes for children?
  • What impact does poor dental/oral health have on children’s development?
  • What is access to free NHS dental services like for different groups of London’s children?
  • What action is already being taken to address this problem at local levels in London?
  • What can be done to raise parental awareness of the need for good child dental health?
  • How can the Mayor help, through his existing programmes and other activity?

How to contribute

Join the LIVE Talk London discussion now: https://www.london.gov.uk/talk-london/health/children-dental-health

We welcome submissions from any organisations and individuals with views and information to share on this topic. We are keen to hear from parents and their children, healthcare providers, professional organisations, academics, local authorities and anyone else with an interest in children’s teeth. To contribute, please send submissions to the committee by 31 March 2019 using the details below.

Email submissions: [email protected]

Postal submissions: Will King, London Assembly, City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA

Further information: 020 7983 5596

Media enquiries: Funmi Olutoye - 020 7084 2713