The NHS performs more than 100 operations every day in England to remove decayed teeth in children.
Costs to the NHS for removing decayed teeth has jumped by 61% since 2010/11, now costing £35.29million a year in 2014/15 compared with £21.89 million in 2010/11, new Local Government Association (LGA) analysis has shown.
‘Our children’s teeth are rotting because they are consuming too much food and drink that is high in sugar far too often,’ Izzi Seccombe, community wellbeing spokeswoman for the LGA, said.
‘Nearly half of 11 to 15-year-olds have a sugary drink at least once a day.
‘As these figures show, we don’t just have a child obesity crisis, but a children’s oral health crisis too.
‘What makes these numbers doubly alarming is the fact so many teeth extractions are taking place in hospitals rather than at the dentists.
‘This means the level of tooth decay is so severe that removal is the only option.
‘It goes to show that a good oral hygiene routine is essential, as well as how regular dentist trips can ensure tooth decay is tackled at an early stage.’
Prevention is better than cure
The number of extractions performed on under-18s has increased by 26% since 2010/11, the analysis shows.
In 2014/15 there were 40,970 procedures compared with 32,457 in 2010/11, leading to some children having to wait up to a year to have decayed teeth removed.
‘Ministers keep forgetting that prevention isn’t just better than cure, it’s cheaper too,’ Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, of the British Dental Association, said.
‘A cash-strapped NHS is spending money it doesn’t have on surgical procedures for children with advanced decay, when it could spend a fraction of that sum keeping healthy teeth in healthy mouths.’