Skip to main content

Dental Services: Children

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of schoolchildren in England between the ages of six and nine who have received treatment as part of a screening programme since his Department's guidance on dental screening (inspection) was issued in January 2007; what the effect on expenditure on salaried primary dental care resources or equivalent was in England as a result of implementing this guidance; and if he will make a statement. (202827)

One of the reasons why the National Screening Committee advised that dental screening in schools should be discontinued was that a large randomised controlled trial demonstrated that school dental screening was ineffective in reducing levels of untreated dental disease and increasing attendance at dental practitioners. Information is not held centrally from which we could make an estimate of the number of children which continue to be screened, but we understand that most primary care trusts have ceased to undertake screening. We did not make this change in policy to cut costs. Our guidance recommends that the resources freed up be used to reduce inequalities in oral health by, for example, boosting the capacity of salaried dental services to reduce waiting times for special needs groups or for those children and adults who are unable to receive treatment through general dental services.