Minister drills home tooth decay problem

Health Minister Angela Smith has launched a consultation document aimed at improving the state of people's teeth in Northern Ireland.

The Oral Health Strategy is a 10-year plan which aims to improve the oral health of the entire population and reduce inequalities. Specific recommendations are made on tackling the higher disease levels found among the poor, older people, ethnic minorities, travellers and homeless people. Proposals are also made on access to dental care for children and adults with disabilities.

Highlighting the scale of the problem in Northern Ireland, the Minister said: “Tooth decay levels among Northern Ireland children are approximately double those in England and the Republic of Ireland. This completely preventable disease is the most common reason for children receiving hospital general anaesthetics. Last year, in Northern Ireland, almost 8,000 children, some as young as 2-years-old, had a general anaesthetic for dental treatment.

“If we are to close the oral health gap between Northern Ireland and our neighbours then dental services must focus more on prevention. There also needs to be greater interdisciplinary working within the health service and more partnership working between the health, education, community and voluntary sectors. The benefits of these approaches will extend beyond oral health into general health and well-being.”

The new Oral Health Strategy replaces the 1995 Oral Health Strategy and sets the context for the forthcoming Primary Care Dental Strategy.

The cost of providing Health Service dentistry in Northern Ireland last year was approximately £80 million.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

17 September 2003
Derry school runs pilot dental project
A Londonderry school has become the first facility of its kind in Northern Ireland to have its own fully equipped dental surgery within its premises.
17 June 2015
Number Of People With HIV Almost Doubles In Ten Years – PHA
Northern Ireland had the biggest rise in new HIV diagnoses compared to the rest of the UK between 2000-2013, according to new figures. The number of people living with HIV has almost doubled over the last two years, the Public Health Agency (PHA) has announced.
03 September 2013
£7m Health Facility Launches At Jordanstown
A new £7m health research facility has been launched at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown. The Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC) follows a £6.8m investment by a consortium of technology companies. It is being supported by a £5m research and development (R&D) offer from Invest Northern Ireland.
29 March 2012
Progress Slow In Treatment Of Prisoners Mental Health
Progress in the treatment of prisoners with mental health problems has been slow. While some improvements have been made a report published today by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland shows that many challenges remain.
10 November 2011
Mental Health Issues No Workforce Barrier
People with mental health issues are making a significant contribution to the workforce. Far from being any burden, the Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, has highlighted the significant contribution that those with mental health issues make to Northern Ireland's workforce.