extractionsMore than 5,000 children had multiple teeth extracted across one year in Northern Ireland, a new study has shown.

BDA Northern Ireland estimates that the cost to the health service of removing 22,699 teeth under general anaesthetic in under 18s was £9,347,650.

This is based on health service statistics, which show that the average cost of an extraction is £1,825 per procedure.

‘With the health service facing huge pressures, Northern Ireland needs to confront a wholly preventable disease that not only causes untold misery, but is now costing us millions,’ Northern Ireland Council chair, Roz McMullan, said.

‘Our Oral Health Strategy is well past its sell by date.

Governments in Wales and Scotland have shown there’s nothing inevitable about child tooth decay, and we can’t afford not to put those lessons into practice.

‘We have seen a patchwork of schemes make welcome progress, but what we desperately need now is a joined-up approach.’


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Lack of guidance

Recent polls have indicated that a lack of guidance could be contributing to the high decay rates experienced in Northern Ireland.

Irishdentistry.ie reported recently that many parents are unaware of the benefits of early professional oral health care.

‘The best time for children to begin visiting the dentist is during the first year of life,’ Kirsten FizGerald, of the Irish Division of the European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry (EAPD), says.

‘First tooth, first visit, zero cavities – that’s our motto!

‘As dentists we know this, but evidence from practitioners on the ground is that most Irish families are not aware of the benefits of early professional oral health care.

‘The Irish Division of the EAPD has worked hard in recent years to raise this important issue at a national level.

‘Families need guidance from healthcare professionals and support from public policy to be able to avail of the best oral health care for their children.’