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Children’s oral health is “national disgrace,” says head of royal college

The poor state of children’s teeth is a damning indictment of widening inequalities in child health in England, the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has said.

In an interview with The BMJ Camilla Kingdon said that paediatricians were seeing the effects of longstanding health inequalities widening as the cost of living crisis affects the types of ill health that children are presenting with. She further told The BMJ, “There are lots of examples. One that we often forget about is oral health and the state of children’s teeth, which is actually a national disgrace. The commonest reason for a child having a general anaesthetic in this country is dental clearance. That’s a terrible admission of failure.”

In her interview with The BMJ, Kingdon identified asthma and nutrition as other major areas of child health where the UK was failing. She said that these trends were partly being driven by social factors and expressed concern at the lack of focus in policy on fixing them.

She warned, “Our worry, with the health disparities white paper being kicked into the long grass, is that without that intention, without a clear signal from the government that this is a priority, all these ideas [for tackling child health inequalities] just won’t be prioritised and we will miss an opportunity to really intervene.”

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Source: BMJ, 4 January 2023


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