Oral health is important to general health and wellbeing, tooth decay is a predominantly preventable disease that can reduce quality of life and is expensive to treat. It can particularly disturb a child’s quality of life by causing pain and infection that may result in sleep deprivation and time off from school. It can also affect nutritional intake in young children which may impact on growth and weight gain. Oral diseases are also associated with heart disease, diabetes complications, rheumatoid arthritis and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
In 2013/14, 95.5% of children who had been looked after continuously for at least 12 months in Wakefield were recoded as having had their teeth checked by a dentist in the last year. This figure is higher than the national and regional averages of 84.4% and 81.4%; it’s also an improvement on the previous year, 2012/13, where the figure was 90.9%.
Brushing teeth twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste is recognised as an essential part of preventing tooth decay. The 2015 Children and Young People’s survey asked pupils how often they normally brush their teeth; 18.8% of children aged 9 to 10 years and 11.8% of 13 to 14 year olds stated that they brushed their teeth less than twice a day.
There are inequalities in oral health, with poor oral health being linked to deprivation.
Fewer year 5 pupils in deprived areas brush their teeth at least twice a day, 79% in deprived areas and 88% in least deprived areas. In both year groups less boys than girls reported that they brush their teeth at least twice a day.
Going to the dentist for regular check-ups beneficial as it allows any problems to be identified and treated; leaving problems untreated could make them more difficult to treat in the future. Of pupils aged 9 to 10, 87% reported that they had visited their dentist in the last year, this increases to 94% of 13 to 14 year old pupils.
There is limited comparative data available, making it difficult to comprehensively assess oral health in Wakefield. In 2012 a survey of five year old children was completed, this data indicates that children in Wakefield have a higher number of decayed, missing or filled (dmft) than the regional and national averages. Each five year old child in Wakefield has on average 1.66 teeth that are decayed, missing or filled, compared to 0.94 in England and 1.23 in Yorkshire and the Humber region (2012/13). In a 2013 survey, one in five Wakefield 3 year olds had any decayed teeth. This was the highest rate across all Yorkshire and Humber.
Further information on oral health is available on the JSNA website, under the people and ill health sections, the Oral Health Needs Assessment for Wakefield district and the Children and Young People’s Survey 2015 reports: