United Kingdom Rejects Call to Inspect Migrants’ Teeth

October 28, 2016

Earlier this month, a proposal began circulating in the United Kingdom to require migrants to undergo dental inspections. A conservative member of Parliament, David Davies, had called for dental checks to determine the age of migrants entering the country. Davies feared that migrants are lying about their age to gain entry into the UK as child asylum seekers.

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MP David Davies (PC: Twitter)

His fears were echoed by other parliament members. Currently, age is determined based on official paperwork, and authorities are able to dispute migrants’ ages based on the migrants’ physical appearance. Since 2006, over 11,000 age disputes have arisen, and the migrants were found to be adults in over 40% of the disputes.  

Dentists in the United Kingdom vocally opposed a proposed effort for both moral and logistical reasons. A British Dental Association (BDA) spokesman said: "It's not only an inaccurate method for assessing age, but it is both inappropriate and unethical to take radiographs of people when there is no health benefit for them.”

The Home Office, the UK’s government department devoted to immigration, security, and law and order, ultimately rejected the proposal, calling dental tests for migrants “inaccurate, inappropriate, and unethical.”

After the decision, Judith Husband, the chair of one of the BDA’s working groups, issued a statement in support of the decision. “Dental x-rays were never going to be a silver bullet for verifying age. They aren’t cheap, they aren’t simple, and at the end of day they don’t provide definitive results.”

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