Toothbrushes are becoming a “luxury item” for some families, a leading doctor has warned as she described the state of children’s dental health as a “national disgrace”.
Dr Camilla Kingdon, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the cost of living crisis was exacerbating the problem of children with rotten teeth.
Tooth decay is the leading reason for hospital admissions in England among five to nine year olds.
In an interview with The BMJ, she said: “The state of children’s teeth… is actually a national disgrace.
“The commonest reason for a child having a general anaesthetic in this country is dental clearance.
“That’s a terrible admission of failure.”
Meanwhile, new research has revealed four out of five UK teachers have given toothbrushes and toothpaste to students to help improve the oral health of children.
A survey of secondary teachers by hygiene poverty charity Beauty Banks and the British Dental Association (BDA) has revealed that 81 per cent of teachers say some children in their school have no access to toothpaste, with 41 per cent saying this leads to them being socially excluded because of poor oral hygiene.
Commenting on the findings LBC’s Nick Ferrari said: “If you are a mum and/or a dad and you haven’t got money to buy your child a toothbrush, you should never have become a parent in the first place.”
The comments have provoked outrage on social media, with Carol Vorderman saying: “I grew up in poverty & language like this is humiliating. My Mum (3 kids & 5 part time jobs) could only afford 1 tub of hot water/week. Sunday night a few inches of hot water in the bath & we’d take it in turns to wash quickly. No money for heating/clothes but she was a great Mum.”
Emma Jacobs also criticised the presenter, saying he probably “isn’t the only one” that holds these beliefs, while several people pointed out that circumstances can change for parents, particularly during a cost of living crisis.
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