New figures show 160 children and teenagers have teeth extracted under general anaesthetic every day in hospitals in England.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has pointed to excessive sugar consumption and poor oral hygiene as the main reason why there are more than 40,000 operations in hospitals to extract children’s teeth.
‘These figures are a stark reminder of the damage excessive sugar consumption is doing to our children’s teeth,’ chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said.
‘It is deeply worrying that the type of dental treatment required is beyond the capacity of a local dentist, due to the severity of the tooth decay, and as a result has to be done in a hospital.
‘The fact there are more than 160 operations taking place each day to remove teeth in children and teenagers should be a wake-up call to the urgent need to take radical action on our nation’s addiction to sugar.
‘But it also goes to show the importance of having a good oral hygiene routine, as well as how regular dentist trips can ensure tooth decay is tackled at an early stage.
‘Poor oral health can affect children and young people’s ability to sleep, eat, speak, play and socialise with others.
‘Having good oral health can help children learn at school, and improve their ability to thrive and develop.’
Cost of extractions
The latest NHS England data on spending for 2015/16 showed there were 40,800 extractions for under 18s costing more than £35.6 million.
This amounts to a 10.7% rise in the number of operations, 36,833 in 2012/13, with the total cost to the NHS between 2012 and 2016 at £129 million.
‘The millions spent on child tooth extractions in hospitals are emblematic of the government’s disinterest in oral health,’ British Dental Association chair, Mick Armstrong, said.
‘We simply cannot keep pouring NHS resources into avoidable surgery while ministers fail to deliver the goods on prevention.
‘Authorities in Scotland and Wales have set out dedicated strategies that are making real headway in the fight against a preventable disease.
‘Ministers in England cannot remain bystanders.
‘The sugar levy has to be the beginning of a process that sees communities given the tools, and the leadership to turn the tide on decay.’