Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi kids in England visit dentists less frequently

May 15th, 2009 - 5:37 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 15 (ANI): UK kids of South Asian origins-such as Indian, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani-are have been using the NHS dental care less frequently than any other ethnic group, according to a study.

The research showed that three-quarters of under 16s in England have been for a check up in the last year, but the statistics are low for all British Asian groups.

The Department of Health says that Bangladeshi children from deprived backgrounds are the worst affected, and they often consume a high amount of sugar in their diet.

According to Sue Gregory, Deputy Chief Dental Officer for England only 45 percent of boys and 46 percent of girls of Bangladeshi descent have visited the dentist in the last 12 months.

The lapse in health care has been cited by the Department of Health to be due to cultural and economic reasons, and it suggested Asian people use services in different ways.

They believe many South Asian children only visit the dentist when they have problems, such as toothache, rather than for the recommended routine checks every six months. Dr Ahsan Mirza, who runs an NHS dental surgery in Hounslow, London agrees.

“Children from South Asian communities lack the necessary information that is required to get to a dentist,” the BBC quoted him as saying.

“We need to go out into the community and educate British Asians a lot more. We need to bring them to the practices and examine their teeth on a regular basis.

“To facilitate this, we need the help of health care professionals and government health ministers,” he added.

Experts also believe that Asian parents lack the necessary knowledge, with the Department of Health saying that many Asian parents do not realise that NHS dental care is free for under-18s.

“The baby teeth of Asian children are not as healthy as the white population,” Gregory added.

The Department of Health is currently producing guidance notes for all Primary Care Trusts across the country.

This will provide ideas about how they can promote the issue to local South Asian communities in their region.

The aim is to raise awareness of the problem, and help to support more ‘vulnerable and socially deprived’ sections of the Asian community.

They hope to publish these documents later this summer. (ANI)

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