Around 50 per cent of children in some schools in Stafford, Stone and surrounding villages show signs of tooth decay by the age of five, according to a report being put before health bosses today.
The board of South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust is being asked to approve a Dental Commissioning Strategy for 2008 to 2013 which aims to improve the oral health of the area.
The strategy, which also looks at the provision of orthodontists and how to improve rates of gum disease and oral cancer, if approved by the board today will be followed by a period of consultation and lead to an action plan for dentistry up until 2013.
In his report to the board, director of commissioning, John Wicks said that levels of tooth decay in children is generally low across South Staffordshire due to the fact 75 per cent of the area has fluoridated water and levels overall are half what they were in the late 80s.
He said: “Notwithstanding this positive picture of oral health, there are inequalities within the PCT area. Stafford, Stone and the surrounding villages are not covered by water fluoridation schemes and decay levels here are generally higher. In some schools around 50 per cent of children have experience tooth decay by the age of five.”
Tooth decay can lead to pain, sepsis, tooth loss and other problems later in life and is linked to lots of sugar consumption.
He added: “Because the disease is linked to lifestyle, in particular poor diet, children in deprived communities tend to experience more disease.”
Among his recommendations to improve the situation he suggests that the PCT with neighbouring PCTs and the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority (SHA) on extending existing water fluoridation schemes to cover the remaining areas and health promotions schemes to promote the use of toothpaste with fluoride and reduce the amount of sugar people eat.
He also advises that the PCT should consider these inequalities when commissioning new dental practices or expanding services in these areas of greatest needs.