Today, Aaron Rogan in The Times reports that a study by University College Cork published in this month’s Journal of the Irish Dental Association found that 60% of the 347 Irish children who required dental treatment under general anaesthetic before they turned five needed teeth extracted.
Michaela Dalton, president of the HSE dental surgeons group describes it as an ‘epidemic of tooth decay’. “Juices and yoghurts are rotting babies’ teeth but are being sold as replacements for fruit. Sugary cereal bars are sold as healthy snacks. They’re labelled as no-added sugar and all-natural but they have concentrated fruit sugars, which are really acidic and rotting teeth” Dr Dalton said.
Another significant finding was that despite a long-established link between economic disadvantage and dental problems, there was no significant class difference for preschool children requiring treatment under general anaesthetic.
“Disadvantaged children have a higher risk of requiring a dental general anaesthesia in their lifetime; however, this is not occurring in isolation, with their equivalents in the higher social group also placing a strain on the system,” the study said.
The programme for government explicitly mentioned that preschool oral health intervention would save the taxpayer money – but the expensive water fluoridation programme already compulsory in Ireland is universally ‘sold’ as an oral health intervention.