DENTISTS from six practices in the Highlands, including Inverness and Easter Ross, have been giving their time in the urgent fight to stem a growing oral health emergency affecting the country’s children.
Inshes Dental Center and Torwood Dental Practice in Inverness, Invergordon Dental Practice and McIntyre Corbet & Associates in Dingwall, Glencoe Dental Center and M&S Dental Care in Fort William, all part of Clyde Munro Dental Group, aim to treat at least 1,000 children with fluoride varnish (FV) application in dedicated out-of-hours clinics by the end of 2022.
VF is one of the most effective treatments for preventing tooth decay in children as young as two years old.
Typically offered up to twice a year, the pandemic-induced backlog means it is currently not as readily available to families as part of NHS services.
The pledge comes after worrying statistics showed 850,000 fewer patients were seen in the past two years compared to 2017-2019. In children’s services, only 55% of children from the most disadvantaged neighborhoods have consulted a dentist.
The latest data shows that primary school children in the most deprived communities experience more than four times the level of tooth decay compared to children in the least deprived areas.
These glaring and persistent inequalities have widened in the wake of the pandemic, with the collapse of access to routine services, the suspension of public health programs and the impact of high-sugar confinement diets, said a group spokesperson.
Tooth decay in children is a major health problem in the UK – and although entirely preventable, it is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization in children.
Jacqui Frederick, the group’s clinical director, is one of the dentists to have helped more than 100 young patients access VF treatment in 2021, since Clyde Munro opened the children’s clinics in the last quarter of last year.
She said: “We are a primarily NHS-based group and we take our responsibility as Scotland’s largest dental group seriously.
“As you can imagine, our dentists are deeply concerned about the decline in the number of young patients accessing NHS dentistry services. The pandemic has set back the oral health of so many people and we want to be part of the response.
“We wish we didn’t have to volunteer outside office hours to achieve this – but in doing so we can reach out to those in need, any parent or guardian concerned can contact their Clyde Munro practice closest to find out about VF clinics. ”
VF treatment which takes around 10 minutes and Clyde Munro will prioritize his practices which are within reach of many of Scotland’s most deprived communities. It will not require the carer or child to be a registered patient. It will regularly post the dates and times of its clinics on its website.
The group has 54 practices from Orkney to the Borders and is represented in every town in Scotland and many of its towns, with 400 staff caring for 460,000 patients.
Learn more about Clyde Munro at https://clydemunrodental.com/