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Tuesday 22nd May 2018

School dental screening is scrapped

22nd February 2007

The school dental screening programme looks set to be scrapped after research showed it is failing to reach poorer children most in need.

Dentist Chair

A study of 17,000 children found that the programme does not improve dental health, and the money could be better spent elsewhere, such as adding fluoride to drinking water.

Researchers said children from poorer backgrounds, who were most likely to have tooth decay, benefited least from the programme.

Children currently undergo dental check-ups at school a minimum of three times between ages six to nine. Those found to need further treatment are sent home with letters asking them to go to their dentist.

Research showed follow-up was low - only half of parents took their children to the dentists and around a quarter had appropriate treatment.

Now the Department of Health has written to Primary Care Trusts who fund the scheme advising that the National Screening Committee has found no evidence to support the programme.

Instead it advises the money should be diverted to other strategies to address oral health inequalities.

Experts agree that fluoridation of drinking water is considered the most effective way to address oral health inequalities. Currently around 10% of people have access to fluoridated water.

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