Kids’ dental health is a postcode lottery

DENTAL DECAY ... inequalities in children's teeth hygiene have been highlighted across South Tyneside.

DENTAL DECAY ... inequalities in children's teeth hygiene have been highlighted across South Tyneside.

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TOOTH decay among children in South Tyneside is subject to a postcode lottery, a new report reveals.

Latest statistics on the dental health of five-year-olds in the borough show major differences on a ward-by-ward basis, but is comparable to neighbouring authorities and better than North East and England averages.

The worst area is Jarrow’s Primrose ward, where 47 per cent of five-year-olds have at least one tooth which is either decayed, filled or missing, closely followed by 46 per cent in the Simonside and Rekendyke ward.

In contrast, the figure is as low as 12 per cent in the West Park and Harton wards of South Shields.

Overall, the borough average is 27.7 per cent, showing levels of decay are lower than the North East (29.7 per cent) and national (27.9 per cent) figures.

It also compares favourably with neighbouring areas Gateshead (25.8 per cent), North Tyneside (29.3 per cent) and Sunderland (36.9 per cent). The national figure stands at 27.9 per cent.

A report presented to a meeting of the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, has recommended that these inequalities between wards be explored and addressed.

It states vulnerable children, particularly those in local authority care, should continue to receive dental health checks as part of their overall package of care.

In a report to the committee, Simon Howard, the council’s public health registrar, also raised the challenges faced by a growing number of elderly people with their own teeth.

He says: “More people who suffer from dementia may also present challenging problems for carers. Self-injurious behaviour, including self-biting, forms a well-described part of the clinical picture in some types of dementia.”

The report also highlights the close links between sugar consumption and dental disease.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul

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