Children in Greater Glasgow and Clyde with extensive tooth decay are waiting up to six months for dental treatment.
The delay is also affecting Scottish children in Forth Valley, Highland and Dumfries and Galloway, where waiting times also reach up to six months.
The British Dental Association (BDA) has pointed to a squeeze on hospital funding as the reason for the long waiting lists.
‘Six-months is a lifetime for children in pain and distress to have to wait for urgent dental treatment,’ national director of BDA Scotland, Pat Kilpatrick, said.
‘The impact of having rotten, septic teeth on a child’s health, wellbeing and development cannot be underestimated.
‘Their symptoms are not confined to the mouth, as it can also affect their speech and growth, not to mention their confidence and ability to socialise with their peers and family.
‘The longer these children have to wait, the more likely they are to develop an infection, or abscess – and in the meantime they may have to take repeat courses of antibiotics to alleviate symptoms, which is anything but best practice, and could increase the risk of antimicrobial resistance.’
The latest figures, from the National Dental Inspection Programme, show 69% of five-year-olds have no obvious signs of tooth decay.
However it also showed clear health inequalities, with only 55% of children from the most deprived areas free from tooth decay, compared with 82% from the least deprived.
‘While Scotland has made some progress in improving children’s dental health, much more still needs to be done, and this is no excuse for neglecting those vulnerable children most in need of dental care,’ Pat continued.
‘Funding to free up theatre space for the care of these children must be prioritised now.’