Exploring the Life Course of Young Children With Dental Decay

Exploring the Life Course of Young Children With Dental Decay

The most common reason for a child in the UK to have a general anaesthetic is due to tooth decay. It is sobering to consider, despite the damage it causes, that tooth decay is entirely preventable. Aside from the financial burden it poses for the NHS, this is symptomatic of a broader issue – childhood experience of tooth decay frequently triggers a cascade of negative outcomes including pain, infection, disturbed sleeping and eating, and school attendance . The consequences of tooth decay significantly impact quality of life and can persist throughout development into adulthood.

Equally worrying are the stark inequalities exposed by oral health outcomes. Decay experience of children living in the most deprived areas in England are almost double the national average. Among the most deprived areas in the UK is Bradford, home to the Born in Bradford birth cohort study. 

The Born in Bradford study offers a unique opportunity to describe the early life course of children from different socio-economic backgrounds and their effects on oral heath outcomes. This project aims to develop a causal framework of the factors that contribute to childhood tooth decay in Bradford, and to describe the service utilisation of children effected by tooth decay. By adopting a system-oriented approach, the hope is to highlight interventions that might facilitate healthier habits and better oral health in the children of Bradford.