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Less than 50% of under 4’s saw a dentist last year, NHS Digital figures confirm

Figures from NHS Digital confirm that fewer than 50% of under 4’s in England saw a dentist in 2018. 

Data from NHS Digital, which was analysed by the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, revealed that 57.7% of children didn’t go to the dentist last year. Over 40% of children aged between 4 and 17 didn’t attend a dental appointment. The statistics underline a trend for leaving it too late to take children to the dentist, with many parents admitting that they take their child to the dentist for the first time when they start school.

Public Health England has launched a campaign to encourage parents to take children to the dentist on a regular basis from the age of 12 months old, but the latest figures show that many are leaving it much later. 

Professor Michael Escudier, dean of the FDS, described the findings as “disappointing” and highlighted the positive impact of attending regular routine check-ups. Checks only last a few minutes and they can reduce the risk of decay dramatically. In children in England, decay is the leading cause of hospital admission, and it can affect everything from general health and self-confidence to performance at school. Childhood decay can also contribute to premature tooth loss, which can increase the risk of dental issues during adolescence and adulthood. 

In light of the statistics, the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons is encouraging parents to start taking children to the dentist every 6 months from the age of one. Frequent visits improve oral health and they also help children to get accustomed to the sights and sounds of the dental surgery, which lowers the risk of anxiety.

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