Children’s dental health continuing to improve

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The number of children in Scotland with no obvious sign of tooth decay has hit a record high.

Figures from NHS Scotland show four out of five (80%) P7 children had no obvious decay experience in their permanent teeth in 2019.

This is up from 53% in 2005 when records began.

However, the data shows children in the poorest parts of Scotland are more likely to have decay than those in wealthier areas.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: "These statistics show that the dental health of children across Scotland continues to improve.

"This report also shows a narrowing in oral health inequalities, which is encouraging.

"To ensure we continue to tackle this, we have extended the Childsmile programme so that children living in our most deprived areas are entitled to receive fluoride varnish applications at nursery or school in addition to those at their dental practice."

Deprivation divide

Data from a national inspection programme shows seven out of 10 (69.5%) P7 children from the most deprived areas have no obvious decay experience.

This is less than children in the least deprived areas where almost nine out of 10 (88.1%) have no decay.

The Scottish government's Childsmile project offers young children free toothbrushes, toothpaste and two fluoride varnish applications per year.

Children attending nursery, and those in primary schools in deprived areas, are offered daily supervised brushing.

There is no longer a formal target for children's dentistry but the Scottish government said funding is allocated on the basis that health boards work towards having 80% of P7 children with no sign of dental disease.

Nine of the 14 health boards in Scotland achieved this in 2019.

The rest are just below 80%, with the worst rate in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde where 76.4% of P7s have no obvious decay.