MP high­lights tooth de­cay cri­sis blight­ing Birm­ing­ham’s kids

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Jonathan Walker Po­lit­i­cal Correspondent

MORE than a quar­ter of Birm­ing­ham five-year-olds suf­fer from tooth de­cay, and the fig­ure is higher in the city than in many other parts of the coun­try.

The prob­lem was high­lighted by Birm­ing­ham MP Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak), who said tooth de­cay can lead to prob­lems with eat­ing and sleep­ing and force chil­dren to take time off school.

It came as in­de­pen­dent re­search by health char­ity the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foun­da­tion re­vealed a stark di­vide be­tween the south of Eng­land and the rest of the coun­try.

Fig­ures dat­ing back to 2009 even showed that one in 11 peo­ple in the West Mid­lands have no nat­u­ral teeth in their head. There is no data to show whether the si­t­u­a­tion has changed since then.

Mr McCabe raised con­cerns in the House of Com­mons, say­ing: “In Birm­ing­ham, 29 per cent of fiveyear-olds suf­fer from tooth de­cay, which is sig­nif­i­cantly higher than the na­tional av­er­age.

“Five-year-olds in Birm­ing­ham are three and a half times more likely to suf­fer tooth de­cay than those in the South West Sur­rey con­stituency of the Sec­re­tary of State for Health.” In the South East of Eng­land, just 20 per cent of five year olds suf­fer from tooth de­cay. But the prob­lem is worse in the North West, where the fig­ure is 34 per cent. Mr McCabe also re­vealed that hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions re­lated to tooth de­cay for those un­der the age of 18 in Birm­ing­ham have al­most dou­bled in the past four years. A re­port by the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foun­da­tion’s Qual­i­tyWatch pro­gramme, called Root causes: qual­ity and in­equal­ity in den­tal health, re­veals that, across sev­eral dif­fer­ent data sources, den­tal health is gen­er­ally bet­ter in the south and east of Eng­land and poorer in the north of Eng­land. The re­port also high­lights a con­sis­tent gap be­tween the den­tal health of the rich and poor, with de­prived groups more likely to re­quire hos­pi­tal treat­ment and par­ents of chil­dren el­i­gi­ble for free school meals find­ing it harder to ac­cess a den­tist.

As with many NHS ser­vices, the sup­ply of den­tists across the coun­try is vari­able. For ex­am­ple, in 2014/15, Cheshire, War­ring­ton and the Wir­ral had 60.8 den­tists per 100,000 pop­u­la­tion – nearly 40 per cent more than in Birm­ing­ham and the Black Coun­try, which had 44.3.

Mr McCabe said: “These lat­est fig­ures on the state of oral health in Eng­land shine a light on the shock­ing dis­par­i­ties be­tween the North and the South. There is a clear link be­tween depri­va­tion and poor oral health. It is stag­ger­ing that the pro­por­tion of peo­ple with no nat­u­ral teeth in the West Mid­lands is over four times higher than other parts of the coun­try.

“These sta­tis­tics don’t even show the full ex­tent of oral health is­sues within the same towns be­cause the way in which data are col­lected masks the scale of the prob­lem.

“For ex­am­ple, in Sut­ton Trin­ity ward in Sut­ton Cold­field, less than 10 per cent of five-year-olds have tooth de­cay, but in Selly Oak ward in my own con­stituency this fig­ure rises to 47 per cent, which is al­most twice the na­tional av­er­age.”

City MP Steve McCabe, be­low

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