Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has revealed that dentists in Northern Ireland extracted nearly 30,000 teeth last year from children aged under 13.
Most of those extracted were rotten baby teeth, which are meant to be lost naturally.
Mr McGimpsey released the figures to the SDLP health spokesperson Carmel Hanna.
Ms Hanna said the level of tooth decay in Northern Ireland children ‘was at worrying levels’.
‘Part of the problem also is that we need to encourage parents to take more care of their children’s teeth,’ she said.
‘We are aware of the high amount of sweets given to children, all the sweetie drinks, the sweetie dummies, etc.
‘We need more National Health Service dentists who give good dental advice, who are into preventative dental health, not just drilling and filling and that’s not happening presently.’