New figures show that 20,000 Brighton children didn’t see a dentist last year

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New figures show that 20,000 children in Brighton didn’t see a dentist last year.

The statistics suggest that just under 40% of children in the area didn’t have a routine check-up, despite the fact that NHS guidelines recommend 6-monthly checks for children. The rate of non-attendance in Brighton and Hove (39%) was slightly lower than the national average of 41 percent.

The British Dental Association has reacted angrily to the figures and contributed some of the blame to the government for failing to connect with “hard-to-reach” families. NHS dental care is available free of charge for children, but a recent BDA poll suggests that up to a quarter of parents are unaware that treatment is free.

Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, BDA chair, said that currently, outreach programmes are targeting parents and families who are already likely to visit a dentist on a regular basis, rather than those who may be unaware of free NHS dental services and child programmes. Nationally, almost 5 million children didn’t see a dentist last year, which the BDA described as a “national disgrace.”

The BDA is encouraging the government in England to consider similar programmes to those in place in Scotland (Childsmile) and Wales (Designed to Smile) to encourage parents to take their children to the dentist on a regular basis and promote good oral hygiene and healthy eating. NHS services ae available, but the organisation believes that parents need to be told about what kinds of services they can access and where they can register their child.

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