HC Deb 13 February 2004 vol 418 cc159-60W
Mrs. Iris Robinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to ensure socially disadvantaged young people are receiving appropriate dental care. [154597]

Angela Smith

Children living in the greatest deprivation have four times more tooth decay than the most affluent. My Department's Investing for Health Strategy sets a target to increase the levels of 5-year-old children with no dental decay to 55 per cent. and to reduce the gap between the best and worse decayed/ missing/filled scores by 20 per cent. by 2010.

My Department's policy is to prevent oral disease. In the absence of fluoridation of water supplies, Health and Social Services Boards are taking forward and monitoring other methods of oral disease prevention. These include the provision of toothbrushes and toothpaste to young children in socially deprived areas, schemes to encourage registration from birth with a dentist and sealing permanent teeth with a protective resin to prevent decay. There are also schemes to promote the use of sugar free medicines and offer dietary advice to young mothers.

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