First dental visit seven years too late
International dental meeting hears from world-leading authorities on paediatric dentistry
Children in Ireland are going to the dentist for the first time seven years too late, according to the dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).
Speaking at the RCSI’s recent Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) in Dublin, Dr John Walsh told the international audience that the average age of a child on the first visit to the dentist, under the national screening programme, was eight. He told the ASM, held in conjunction with the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry, that often by the time a child presents for their first check-up, there can be substantial decay and damage to the teeth.
He said: “Children who do not visit the dentist at an early age can experience significant setbacks in terms of dental health. Baby teeth guide adult teeth into their correct position and early loss of baby teeth can result in orthodontic problems later in life. Research has shown that fixing decayed first teeth results in better sleep patterns for children, better performance in schools, and most importantly, fewer orthodontic treatments later in life. I would urge parents to ensure their children see a dentist as early as possible in their lives.
“I’m really pleased that our colleagues from the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry joined us here in Dublin bringing their international expertise on paediatric dentistry into our discussions on what the future holds for the field. “
Nearly 450 dentists, including 200 US paediatric dentists, attended the ASM, Dr Walsh’s last as dean of the dental faculty. Its theme was “Small beginnings, big outcomes” and featured a line-up of speakers from both sides of the Atlantic.