The State of Children’s Oral Health in the UK

Children’s oral health within the UK has improved drastically since the 1970’s.

This is due to greater awareness of oral hygiene and the consequences of a lack of good oral hygiene. However, children in the UK are still facing common dental issues such as tooth decay, infections and abscesses. These require costly treatments, putting pressure on our National Health Service (NHS). A report from the Faculty of Dentistry, conducted in 2015, estimated that a third of five-year-old children in England suffer from tooth decay or caries with at least three teeth affected on average. Dental caries were reported to be the primary cause of hospital admissions for children between the ages of five and nine in 2015.

What are the implications?

Children’s oral health can be impacted easily. A lack of oral hygiene at a young age can have drastic effects which can continue into later life or develop into other connected problems. Infections and abscesses can make eating, speaking and sleeping difficult since they can be quite painful for young children. Abscesses, in particular, can harm the primary and permanent teeth of a child. Children who are admitted to hospital in order to undergo treatments such as tooth extraction run the risk of missing classes which in turn can impede their vital education. Tooth extraction can also result in later orthodontic issues as missing teeth can affect a child’s tooth alignment. On average, tooth extraction for children of 18 and under cost our NHS £30 million between the years of 2012 and 2013.

What is being done?

The Children’s Oral Health Improvement Board was launched in September 2016 in order to guide the improvement of the oral health of children across the UK. Their objectives are to:

  • Put the oral health of children on everyone’s agenda
  • Provide the essential training to trainees
  • Ensure that information regarding a child’s oral health is used to the benefit of all stakeholders
  • Provide the best evidence for the improvement of children’s oral health
  • Communicate information effectively to improve the oral health of all children

In Scotland, the Scottish government established the Childsmile Nursery, school and dentistry practice. Which has been well received in Scotland at the cost of £1.8 million; saving the Scottish Government around £6 million between 2001 and 2002. The programme ensures that children are supervised when brushing their teeth and dentists are encouraged to offer fluoride varnishes to children twice yearly once they reach the age of two.

What can I do?

Here at Defacto Dentists, we believe you can do more by doing less. The LESS initiative provides a helpful framework to encourage healthier oral hygiene.

  • Limit the sugar intake of your child. Bacteria use the sugar in the mouth to produce acids that damage teeth.
  • Ensure that your child is registered with their local dentist. Your local dentist can be found at the Defacto Dentist website (
  • Supervise your child as they brush their teeth ensuring that they are using circular motions and coating all their teeth in toothpaste for at least two minutes, twice a day. Make use of our Virtual Dentist and book a Brush-Along appointment for your kids!
  • Sustain this routine. It is critical that you monitor your child’s oral hygiene to avoid future dental drawbacks. Make sure you have the right toothbrushes for your kids. Advice is available from your dentist or hygienist.

Defacto Dentists can help you find the perfect dentist to monitor your children’s oral health. The right dentist will provide the necessary information and will work closely with you to guarantee good oral hygiene! Why not give us a smile at

Blog by Callum Wilkie

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