Dental Expert Suggests Better Oral Health Measures to Reduce Children’s Hospital Admissions

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A leading dental researcher suggests that effective preventative measures and better dental care could drastically reduce the number of hospital admissions among young children and save the NHS millions of pounds.

Peninsula Dental School’s Professor Elizabeth Kay has recently carried out a review to evaluate public health measures related to reducing rates of decay among young children. Her findings suggest that investing in preventative measures such as fluoride varnish teamed with supervised brushing schemes and educational measures could help to decrease the number of children requiring dental treatment in hospital, as well as saving the NHS a substantial amount of money.

Professor Kay was responsible for producing the first economic review of public dental health measures and worked in conjunction with NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) and the York Health Consortium to identify potential cost-saving measures and find solutions for the common causes of decay in children.

She said there is a still a substantial amount of work to do to create new policies based on clinical findings. However, it is clear that there are ways of making NHS programmes more cost-effective and more could be done to prevent cases of decay, rather than to treat them, which would save a lot of money.

Speaking about the current crisis affecting UK hospitals, with hundreds of children admitted for dental care every week, Professor Kay said it was a “national outrage” that so many youngsters require hospital treatment for preventable conditions. Tooth decay is now the most common reason for hospital admission among 5-9 year olds.

During her research, Professor Kay found that using preventative measures, such as fluoride varnish and supervised brushing, could save a significant amount of money. She worked on the NICE threshold value of £20,000 and found that even allowing for £46 per year for brushing and £62 per year for fluoride varnish could save the NHS hundreds of pounds per child by reducing the chances of hospitalisation.

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