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British Dental Health Crisis Highlights Need for Better Dental Access for Children Worldwide

Funding cuts to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) have left major shortages in dental access for British children. According to a new report by the British Dental Association, scores of children needing dental services ranging from regular exams to dental surgeries are simply no longer able to get them, as approximately half of Britain’s NHS-funded dental clinics have been forced to stop accepting new patients due to funding cuts.


 

"A recent study from Cardiff University estimated that about 160 British children a day require tooth extractions," says Wilmington, North Carolina, dentist Dr. Michele Simpson. "But without that NHS funding, they’re not getting them."

This means affected children are forced to needlessly suffer from painfully infected or decaying teeth, something that has been shown time and time again to affect school attendance and performance, among other things.

In the United States, where children between the ages of 6 and 12 missed an astounding 9 million days of school during the 2015-16 school year, things aren’t looking much better.

"There was a Delta Dental study conducted in 2016 that really highlighted how devastating oral health problems can be to academics. In addition to missing school due to pain and dental visits, American kids are falling behind even on days they’re at school because they can’t focus on their work due to the pain," says Simpson.

In fact, things in the United Kingdom have gotten so bad that dental charities like Britain’s Dentaid and the United States-based Remote Area Medical are setting up locations within the United Kingdom to help provide dental services for children affected by the NHS cuts.

"These are charities that normally work to provide dental access to kids in Third World countries who are now coming back to First World countries to help out," Simpson says. "At this point they’re saying kids in Third World countries have better teeth than kids in the United Kingdom."

The fault doesn’t entirely fall on the NHS cuts, though. According to Simpson, while the funding cuts do eliminate the ability to receive important dental services, the poor diets of children in the United Kingdom and even in the United States are mostly to blame.

"Yes, it’s troublesome that these services are no longer available, but to me it’s equally as troubling that such a high number of these procedures are needed for children," Simpson says. "It shows that we as parents aren’t feeding kids the right foods or teaching them to take proper care of their teeth."

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Michele Simpson DDS

Wilmington Dental Office

3317 Masonboro Loop Rd • Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28409

(910) 550-3959

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Wilmington, NC 28409