Tooth decay in half of poorest young Scots

Tooth decayu a major problem among children from poorest areas of Scotland. Picture: PA
Tooth decayu a major problem among children from poorest areas of Scotland. Picture: PA
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HALF of primary one children from Scotland’s poorest areas have obvious signs of tooth decay, newly released figures government have shown.

The figures also revealed that just one in five P1 pupils from the wealthiest areas had clear signs of tooth decay.

However, more than two thirds, or 67 per cent, of all P1 children had no obvious sign of decayed teeth in 2011-12, a 1.5 per cent improvement on last year’s results.

Scotland’s public health minister, Michael Matheson, insisted the overall improvement was due to “significant investment” in dental services for children by the SNP government.

But minsters were accused of presiding over a gap in dental health provision in Scotland, as the percentage of the poorest P1 children with no obvious signs of tooth decay stood at 50.5 per cent, compared with 81.2 per cent for the least deprived in that age group.

Tory MSP Alex Johnstone blamed the high levels of tooth decay among children from deprived backgrounds on what he said was a lack of education on dental care.

Mr Johnstone said: “It’s a failure on the education side and it symptomatic of the way the SNP has tried to say it has put more resources into improving access to dentists, while at the same time neglecting other areas of public health.

“It appears the SNP government has failed to put enough resources into education to teach children on how best to look after their teeth.”

Scotland’s chief dental officer Margie Taylor said the figures showed the importance of the parents’ role in teeth-cleaning.

She said: “It is important that parents remember their healthful habits and practices throughout the festive season to ensure their children enjoy a lifetime of beautiful smiles.”