Cross-party support building for Tooth Commission

Monday’s Irish News is expected to lead shocking statistics about variations in childhood dental health, including details of greater numbers of teeth falling out from children attending CCMS primary schools than those in the state sector. The leaked draft is believed to be an early version of the final report which is due to be shared with Assembly members of the Health committee on Monday morning, and will be followed by a statement to the full Assembly by the Health Minister Edwin Poots.

ni children tooth decay - chart from with other regions, Northern Ireland is the tooth decay capital of the UK and Ireland. The report is expected to confirm the findings of an earlier 2002 Children’s Oral Health in NI report which highlighted that “the average number of missing, filled or decayed teeth is far higher among children from low-income households than for other children”.

Other research has already shown that “children living within the 20% most deprived wards in Northern Ireland are almost twice as likely (47%) to have experienced dental decay as children from the 20% most affluent wards (25%)”.

However, the Irish News will reveal a previously undiscovered anomaly in childhood dental decay. The leaked report states that considerably more Catholic primary school children are losing teeth than numbers of Protestant counterparts.

Reacting to the leaked report, Sue Ramsey – Sinn Féin chair of Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee – is calling for urgent action by the minister to address this issue of inequality. She criticised department officials who she said had suppressed this data and not revealed the full facts when they briefed the committee about oral hygiene last April.

In a rare show of cross-party solidarity, the West Belfast MLA was joined by UUP MLA for Lagan Valley Basil McCrea who called for the immediate resignation of Edwin Poots, saying that Protestant teeth had as much right to fall out as Catholic ones.

Alliance health spokesperson Kieran McCarthy said he agreed in principle with the need to address dental health issues more seriously. However, he distanced himself from some of his fellow MLAs’ remarks, saying that it was time that the unionist and nationalist parties “rinsed their mouths” and “took the religion out of teeth”. “Besides”, he added, “even the dogs on the street know that most decayed teeth are coloured yellow”.

Together the three MLAs appealing for the Executive to eliminate tooth decay and the causes of tooth decay through a panel of experts in a ‘Tooth Commission’.

The (acting) Chief Dental Officer – Mr Donncha O’Carolan – refused to be drawn on the alleged gaps in the mouths of children, but concentrated on the wider issues:

The oral health of Northern Ireland’s population is the worst in the United Kingdom and this has been the case for many years. Over the decades the oral health of our society has improved but the gains we have experienced have been much less than those seen by our neighbours.

He added:

The Republic of Ireland, which once had worse children’s dental health than Northern Ireland now, thanks to water fluoridation, boasts the lowest tooth decay levels in Europe.

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  • New Blue

    This is a shocking example of the continued fillings of the Executive.

    I intend to start a campaign to get the Tooth Fairy elected as the next health minister. For too long we have let this decay seperate us.

  • Professor Yattle

    I look forward to Alan’s report on the launch of the Tooth Commission. How long will it take in the company of commission supporters to turn him from fearless reporter to tooth unpaid press officer?

  • lamhdearg2

    more proof of the continued persecution of catholic childrens teeth in ulster, while unionists childrens teeth feast on caviar, us poor catholic parents are forced to feed our weans Mars bars, i tell ye Mars bars, its a disgrace so it is, read this out in a Jimmy young type voice, must be the time of the year!.

  • I am surprised that the retired Ian Paisley wasn’t asked to comment on this.

    After all, how is this going to affect the “wailing and gnashing of teeth” scenario?

  • ranger1640

    Loving it guys, I think I see the tooth fairy.

  • wild turkey

    hmmm, Alan. lotsa food for thought here.

    allegedly, supposedly, allegedly on the back of this a leaked SF draft document will recommend a radical revision to its “Unionist Outreach” initiative. Supposedly the document calls for the Shinners to target the youth generation of the PUL community by literally being sweet; to wit, distributing guaranteed tooth rotting treats and sweets. Consistent with “An Ireland of Equals” the plan aims to equalise young protestant and catholic tooth decay rates by 2016….

    in a seperate but related issue, sources in the states are claiming the Santorum presidential campaign plans to release conclusive that the flouridation of water supplies is responsible for “a range of deviant sexual behaviours, including non-marital sex, non-pajama wearing sex, homosexuality, propensity to abort and unwanted pregnancie” sources close to the campaign say the research, long suppressed by liberal media elite, also ‘proves’ that high levels of flouride in public water supplies is responsible for peoples antipathy towards evangelical christainity, the tea party, lack of respect for Sarah Palin and a latent desire to turn the Republic of the United States into a puppet muslim dictatorship.

    theres a lot more to this but my kids are on my case to go to their april fools day party.


  • Catherine Couvert

    ‘I intend to start a campaign to get the Tooth Fairy elected as the next health minister.’ Be careful what you wish for, New Blue. Remember:
    “The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected!!” Will Rogers

  • ranger1640

    I hear that Gerry Adams is removing the Crowns from his row of well polished ivories.

    He is replacing them with GPO’s Gerry’s polished orthodontics.

  • PaulT

    I salute Unionism’s long journey from MOPEs to Molars, but surely all this is just rearranging the deckchairs on the titanic

  • PaulT

    Listen, isn’t it about time we took the Gums out of politics.

    Surely unionists are finally satisfied that Catholics can no longer be accused of biting the hand that feeds them (just some aggressive sucking)

  • cynic2

    Could the poor state of childrens’ teeth be related to the poor standard of politics ie cavities in proportion to the amount of nonsenses spouted by MLAs on education?

    The truth must be told

  • Zig70

    Is the data skewed by flouridation till 99 in the ards peninsula?

  • cynic2

    I dont think that a Tooth Commission is a strong enough solution. This must become a major Government Priority (TM) or the Peace Process may be under threat of being gummed to death by toothless teenagers.

    We need to address this in a comprehensive planned and co-ordinated manner. I therefore suggest:

    * creation of a new Tooth Ministry to focus on the real problem of cavities

    * complement this by creation of a second Gum Ministry to co-ordination and drive forward a programme on gum disease

    * to cordinate between these an additional post of Junior Minister responsible for decay in OFMDFM

    This leaves , of course, the tricky problem of Tartar which affects both teeth and gums. For reasons of economy (and because there are almost no MLAs left who don’t hold Ministers posts) we plan to appoint a Tartar Czar to drive home a comprehensive Tartar Patrol Programme. It is not expected that the Tartar Czar will actually do anything to prevent or control tartar. That, of course, will be treated as a community programme so the czar’s main role with be to disburse large grants to local community leaders (TM) who will manage tarter in their local areas. Possible measures may include:

    * a real drive on tooth cleaning and repolisihing with the free distribution of tooth paste (Minty Green for Nationalists and the more traditional red white and blue stripe for Unionists with a yucky yellow colour for Alliance voters)

    * a complete ban on legitimate supplies of traditional food and beverages that promote decay including orange Tango, Yellow Man and the cross community beverages of WKD and Buckie. It is however anticipated that limited supplies of these will soon still be available again through the efforts of other local community representatives thereby creating the positive spin off og job creation in the community

    * a new Mural Development Programme where those with teeth already too far gone can volunteer for a new Tourist Board Programme of having Murals hand pained on their teeth by community artists. Popular subjects are likely to be The Hunger Strikers (one per tooth), King William Crossing the Boyle, Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams. In return for a grant from NITB, those on the programme will be required to sit on the wall at City Hall for at least 2 hours a day with their mouths open so tourists can enjoy the view.

  • Cynic2 – no doubt the acting Chief Dental Officer (he’s real) and the folk behind the Oral Health Strategy for NI (it’s real) will be in touch to pursue your ideas!!

  • gendjinn

    The only way to definitively deal with this situation is with a Tooth & Reconciliation commission.

  • PaulT

    Didn’t someone from the DUP once say the good people of Northern Ireland don’t want Oral Health shoved down their throat (or was it aomething else)

  • cynic2

    “Save Ulster from Tooth Decay”

    It almost rhymes!!!!

  • cynic2

    Alan in Belfast

    The oral health strategy is a wonderful document but misses a key opportunity. Dont fluoridate water.- instead add fluoride to all sugar based soft drinks, WKD and Buckie thereby getting it right to the site of the problem.


    PS Isnt it great that in wee NI we manage a whole oral health strategy that doesn’t once mention STDs

  • carl marks

    PS Isnt it great that in wee NI we manage a whole oral health strategy that doesn’t once mention STDs

    Sectarian Teeth Decay Symptoms should be in this thread, How will we deal with this problem unless we face up to it.