REVEALED: Hackney children worst in Britain for visiting a dentist

Children in Hackney are the least likely in Britain to have seen a dentist over the past year, according to new figures.

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Only 33 per cent of children aged under 18 in Hackney saw a dentist in 2017. Graph: Connor Ibbetson

Statistics from the NHS’ Dental Law Partnership reveal that only 33 per cent of children aged under 18 in the City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which covers the borough and the City of London, saw a dentist in 2017.

Compared to a national average of 58 per cent, Hackney’s average also trails far behind the London figure of 45 per cent, making the borough’s CCG the worst in the country.

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Major Problem: The per cent of Hackney children visiting a dentist, fell well below the 58 per cent national average and 45 per cent London average. Graph: Connor Ibbetson.

Responding to the figures, Paul Fleming, Chair of Healthwatch Hackney, said: “This simply isn’t good enough. These figures are deeply concerning and the situation seems to be getting worse.”

Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, told the Hackney Post: “It’s a major problem across the UK – a quarter of five-year-olds have suffered tooth decay.

“In Hackney nearly 100 professionals working with children have received oral health training including nurseries and all our children’s centres, and have also given out Brushing for Life packs.”

A City and Hackney CCG assessment from 2016 showed that 40 per cent of under 18’s in Hackney visited a dentist between 2013 and 2015, suggesting a seven per cent drop in three years.

The assessment also found the proportion of five to nine year olds who underwent an inpatient tooth extraction in 2013/14 in Hackney was twice the national rate.

“Access to dental care is a big problem, especially for families in poverty and for those with disabled children. Poverty is strongly associated with poor dental health,” said Fleming.

“These figures are deeply concerning and the situation seems to be getting worse.”

In January a Hackney Health Watch report revealed that vulnerable Hackney residents found it difficult to access specialist dental services.

“Families tell us it can be hard to find an NHS dentist,” Fleming said. “Hackney has fewer dentists per population compared with its near neighbours.

“We are therefore calling for urgent action from NHS England and local partners to improve access to regular dental checks for all children in City and Hackney.”

The worst-performing areas for children’s oral health were located in Central London, with Hackney, Westminster and Tower Hamlets in the bottom three. The best-performing area in the UK was Norwich with 89 per cent.

Responding to the nationwide figures, Chris Dean, MD of the Dental Law Partnership, said: “The potential number of people, especially children, not getting regular check-ups, at the very least, is something we find very worrying, because this is the way that dental issues are picked up before they become much worse, causing lots of discomfort, pain and stress.”

“Families tell us it can be hard to find an NHS dentist. Hackney has fewer dentists per population compared with its near neighbours.”

Dean added: “The data highlights that a significant number of adults and children in England are not seeing an NHS dentist regularly, with some areas having exceptionally poor attendance.

“This is one of the reasons why we put our full support behind World Oral Health Day, on March 20th, to raise awareness of the importance of looking after our teeth and oral health, as it can have a major impact on wider health too.

“We understand that many people worry when it comes to visiting their dentist, as last year’s survey by the Oral Health Foundation showed, with 67 per cent of UK adults admitting they are apprehensive about dentist appointments. However, we want to encourage people of all ages to make oral health a priority.”