Looking back... Report highlights poor dental health

More than 3,000 children in Newtownabbey had teeth extracted and 6,400 filled, during the previous 12 months, according to a report published by the Northern Health and Social Services Board in May 1982.

This was compared with 1,000 extractions in Larne and Carrick.

One third of adults had no natural teeth left, according to the report.

However, the report did not include statistics for extractions carried out by general dental practitioners.

Dentist Derek McMeekin, who had a practice at Portland Avenue, said: “Compare children’s teeth here with children’s teeth in America and they still have a long way to go.

“In the US, they have to pay for treatment but they still look after their teeth.

“Even if there was a ten per cent improvement, it would only scratch the surface. Generally speaking, people here do not look after their teeth.”

Mr McMeekin acknowledged that the cost of treatment for adults on the NHS was “not far short of” private treatment.

“It can be very costly. I have not seen any improvement in recent years which has been more than slight.”