The British Dental Association (BDA) has commented on new research showing children in care are twice as likely to have a tooth removed under general anaesthetic.
The University of Glasgow research, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, compared data from 622,280 children from Scotland - 10,924 of whom were currently or recently looked after - and found 49% of children in care do not attend the dentist regularly, in comparison with 38% of the general child population.
9% of children in care have had a tooth extraction under general anaesthetic compared with 5% of other youngsters. The research follows recent studies from Healthwatch on wholly inadequate provision of dental services for elderly care home residents.
The BDA's Michael Cranfield said:
"Children in care are facing hospital extractions in such numbers because dentistry has been treated as an optional extra. This research adds to a growing body of evidence on the UK care system where the oral health needs of vulnerable patients - both children and adults with additional needs - have simply been disregarded.
"Government has a duty to provide structure to these children, many of whom come from chaotic backgrounds. The onus is on the authorities to ensure all their health needs are met."