London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Southwark 1969

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Southwark, Borough of]

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Dental Services
There were somewhat fewer M.& C.W. dental sessions than in 1968 but the number
of fillings per session rose from 4.2 to 5.0 and more children under five had a dental
inspection. Of those inspected 52% needed treatment compared to 60% the previous year.
The demand for treatment by expectant and nursing mothers continued to fall,
only 16 new patients requesting treatment during the year. For the first time in 5 years
there were no patients requiring the supply of dentures in this group.
Dental health education is an important factor in encouraging dental care for
mothers and young children and this emphasis was maintained throughout the year in
the active co-operation between the Borough Health Education and Home Safety Officer
and the Dental Auxiliary who devoted an increasing proportion of time to this subject
including visits to welfare centres and mothers clubs.
The Guy's Dental School Mobile Clinic was in use in the Borough during the year
and children attending the Kirkwood Junior Training School as well as some of those in
the Special Units at three of the day nurseries were examined and treated. This was a
particularly important advance in making dental treatment available to handicapped
children without obliging them as in the past to make long journeys to hospital. The
maintenance and possible expansion of this service in the Borough is most valuable and it
is hoped that this form of co-operation with the hospital service will continue to develop.
A total of 216 children attending the six day nurseries in the Borough were
examined during the year. Of these, 25% needed some treatment compared with 39% in
the previous year. The level of dental disease seen in these very young children illustrates
the widespread prevalence of early dental decay.
The formation of good tooth-cleaning habits from the earliest years is of the
greatest importance. The visits of the dental auxiliary to day nurseries, giving talks and
demonstrations on the subject of dental health education is a valuable help in achieving
this aim. Excessive sweet eating is often a problem in this age group and any attempt to
reduce the intake of sticky carbohydrates is, from the point of dental health, well worth