Dental decay is a serious problem among children in Scotland. Health boards are tackling it now through health education, incentives to dentists and other initiatives. The Scottish Executive will build on that and will develop the agenda set out in the public health white paper, working towards the target of 60 per cent of five-year-olds with no experience of dental disease by 2010.
Dental decay and oral cancer is the most common reason for admission of under-14-year-olds to in-patient and day-care beds in Scotland. Alleviation of the problem of dental decay and oral cancer would reduce preventable pain and save money in primary and secondary health care. Will the minister take up the British Dental Association's suggestion of including oral hygiene, diet advice and registration with a dentist in standard health checks, or as part of the pre-school education programme?
As Mrs Scanlon rightly suggests, the British Dental Association has published a comprehensive paper in which it raises a number of important dental health issues that I think the Parliament ought to consider. We in Scotland have a poor record of dental health, and we need to improve the dental health of children in particular. We will have to consider diet, oral and dental hygiene and education. I also think that this Parliament should consider the fluoridation of public water supplies, which has not been considered in Scotland for a generation.