Claims children are waiting years for free dental check ups in Jersey

20-month-old Elisha is lip tied and one of the many young people waiting to see a dentist. Credit: ITV Channel TV

There are claims that children in Jersey are having to waiting up to eight years for a free check-up appointment from government dentists.

The free appointments by the States dentists are for all children aged under 12, and should be done regularly.

However, parents have told ITV Channel that they have struggled to get an appointment, with some children having to wait years.

Private dentist Thomas Bray says he knows the waiting lists have increased since Covid, with some parents telling him they have been waiting for up to eight years for those free appointments. He like many dentists offers free appointments to children, whose parents are registered with him. He said: "Some of the lists were quite long beforehand but it was exacerbated by the fact that the department shut down and you couldn't get any appointments, as well as there being empty posts in the hospital some period of time, which made it even worse."

The government has acknowledged the delay is 'frustrating' for parents and children, and has recently started a programme where it pays private dentists to do the work, which would normally be done by the community dental service.

They say this plan should help to reduce the long waiting lists, with the latest figures showing the wait is now 66 weeks.

20-month-old Elisha is lip tied. Even brushing can be painful, and lead to infection.

Elisha's mother says she may have to pay to go privately due to the wait. Credit: ITV Channel TV

A GP referred the toddler for a check up, but like many other young people on the island she is facing a long wait. Elisha's mother Liberty says she does not know if it will be months or years until she is seen. "I've phoned three or four times and got no information, we don't know. If they told me it was going to be a year, then I would take things into my own hands and I would go privately. If it was going to be a month, like we can wait a month, a month isn't necessarily going to make a huge amount of difference whereas a year could." Dr Bray says appointments are crucial so that children's oral health does not deteriorate.

"The dangers are that we have abscesses which have been on children who have rotten teeth for example when they need to be taken out in hospital under specialist care and that infection can spread making children very ill, but also these are humans, they are in pain and really the most ethical thing to do would put them out of pain as quick as we can."

A Government spokesperson said: “Health and Community Services is committed to providing the best possible dental and orthodontic care for children and young people. Each year, there are approximately 2,800 appointments within the community dental service.

"We fully understand that waiting for treatment is frustrating. To help ease our current waiting lists in this area, we are currently engaged in a programme to commission private dentists to see patients, and expressions of interest are being gathered for private dentists to take part in this. Funding for this have come from the Government’s COVID Health and Social Recovery Scheme."