Calls to end decay epidemic

BDA manifesto for May’s Assembly elections

Tackling Northern Ireland’s “decay epidemic” is top of the British Dental Association’s manifesto in the run-up to May’s Assembly elections.

Securing better dental health for all sets out the five key priorities the association believes need to be addressed by the incoming Executive. The document calls for the delivery of a new oral health strategy, action on sugar, efficient and effective regulation, cuts to red tape and a plan for the future.

The association has described Northern Ireland’s existing oral health strategy, which is now over a decade old, as “creaking” and saying that day-to-day decisions are being based on “obsolete data” from 2003. It is also calling for an end to “ludicrous regulations that place high street dentists in the same category as hospitals, and the red tape that requires official approval for simple dental work costing over £280”.

Roz McMullan, chair of the BDA’s Northern Ireland Council, said: “The next Northern Ireland Assembly has a choice. It can accept that extracting over 22,000 baby teeth a year is the new normal, or it can tackle this epidemic head on.

“Northern Ireland is topping the league table for rotten teeth. All decay is preventable, and dentists need to know candidates from all the parties are ready to step up and take their share of responsibility.

“The government’s current oral health strategy is a museum piece. We need a new plan, underpinned by the latest evidence, so we can save children, young people and their parents from unnecessary pain and suffering.

“By 2021 we can turn the corner on decay. So let’s ensure we’re training the dental professionals Northern Ireland needs. And let’s liberate patients and practitioners from the red tape that’s standing in the way of effective care.”