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FDS responds to Liberal Democrats research - 'over 4.4 million children in England not seen dentist for at least a year'

21 Sep 2023

Commenting on the Liberal Democrats research (House of Commons Library) that states - ‘over 4.4 million children in England have not seen an NHS dentist for at least a year’ - Dr Charlotte Eckhardt, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:

“This situation is simply not acceptable. Children and young people should be visiting the dentist at least once a year to prevent serious tooth decay. 

“Subsequently, if children are also waiting over a year in pain to have rotten teeth removed, there clearly remain some very worrying access issues, which the Government needs to address.

“Alongside improving access, we need a greater focus on prevention. It is shameful that removing teeth, rotted by preventable tooth decay, is consistently the main reason children are admitted to hospital and is a clear indicator of health inequalities.

“Tooth decay can be avoided through reduced sugar consumption, regular tooth brushing and visits to the dentist. In view of the damage done to children’s teeth in recent years, support for supervised tooth-brushing - programmes in schools and nurseries - is now urgent.   

“The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England strongly supports the development of new fluoridation schemes. It is particularly key for reducing health inequalities.  The areas with the lowest rates of children’s tooth extractions have water fluoridation schemes. If all 5-year-olds in England drank fluoridated water, we would see much less tooth decay - 17% less in wealthy areas and 28% less in the most deprived areas. It is important that we quickly expand water fluoridation schemes across England.”


Notes to editors:

  • The research from the House of Commons Library can be found here.
  • Water fluoridation health monitoring report 2022 (
  •  Statistics on the impact of water fluoridation schemes on children’s health can be found    here:,in%20the%20most%20deprived%20areas.
  •  In 2021/22, the costs to the NHS of hospital tooth extractions in 0 to 19 year olds was estimated to be £81 million for all tooth extractions and £51 million for decay-related extractions. By implementing a coherent prevention strategy that includes supervised tooth brushing schemes, community water fluoridation and sugar reduction, millions could be diverted to improve access to dentistry.
  • The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England is an independent professional body committed to helping the entire dental team achieve and maintain excellence in practice and patient care. It provides world-class courses and its qualifications are internationally recognised, including its new Membership of The Faculty of Dental Surgery (MFDS) examination.
  • The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS England) provides world-class education, assessment, and development to 30,000 surgeons, dental professionals, and wider surgical and dental care teams at all stages of their careers. Our vision is to see excellent surgical care for everyone. We do this by setting professional standards, facilitating research, and championing the best outcomes for patients.
  • For more information, please contact the Press Office: Telephone: 020 7869 6053/6054/6047; Email:; Out-of-hours media enquiries: 0207 869 6056.

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