Thousands of Wigan children have not seen an NHS dentist all year
More than 20,000 children in Wigan have not seen an NHS dentist in the last year, according to newly released figures.
The British Dental Association said the rate of check-ups for children is “national disgrace” and put it down to a lack of information to engage hard-to-reach families.
NHS data shows that 35 per cent of children in Wigan have not had a dental check-up in the 12 months to September 2018 - which is at least better than the 41 per cent average across England.
But it does mean 23,699 borough children have not been for a dental examination in the yearly timeframe recommended in NHS guidelines.
The remaining 65 per cent did see a dentist during the period.
NHS dental care for children is free, but a poll conducted by the BDA last year revealed that one in four parents are unaware that there is no charge for routine check-ups.
The BDA’s chair of general dental practice, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, said that current outreach programmes were more likely to target people who already visit their dentist.
He said: “The fact nearly five million children are missing out on free dental care is nothing short of a national disgrace, but is the logical result of policies from successive governments.
“In Scotland and Wales dedicated national programmes are reaching out in nurseries and primary schools, yet in England the authorities have offered a few posters to pop up in dental practices.
“Tooth decay is a preventable disease and remains the leading cause of hospital admissions for children, but instead of public information campaigns Westminster has offered radio silence.”
Over the 12 months to June, 3,933 children received some kind of urgent dental treatment in Wigan: mainly tooth extractions or fillings.
Among adults, 154,100 people in Wigan saw an NHS dentist in the 24 months to October 2018: 60 per cent of the population, compared with 51 per cent across England.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We want every single child and adult to have access to NHS care, whatever their background or location – and last year a record 6.9 million children were seen by a dentist with numbers rising every year.”