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Recognise tooth decay as neglect

A research report on child neglect by the Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre, says that while recognition of untreated dental disease as an indicator of broader child neglect is improving, in young children it still tends to be “unidentified and not communicated” by health professionals.

Missed Opportunities: Indicators of Neglect – What is Ignored, Why, and What Can Be Done? concludes that public health nurses and dentists should consider whether persistent failure by parents to address tooth decay is neglect. 

Where young children’s milk teeth require removal because of severe decay dentists should refer the case to children’s services for a broader assessment of neglect, it adds. 

Recent figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, showed the number of admissions for dental problems among five- to nine-year-olds rose from 22,574 in 2010/11 to 25,812 in 2013/14.