Tooth decay remains most common reason for hospital admission in five to nine year olds

Tooth decay remains the number one reason for hospital admission among five to nine year olds, according to new figuresAccording to new figures, tooth decay remains the number one reason for hospital admission among five to nine year olds.

However, there has also been a slight fall in admissions when compared to the previous year.

Data reveals that 23,529 children underwent hospital treatment for tooth decay from April 2019 to the end of March 2020. This is more than double the second most common cause, acute tonsillitis (10,359).

Now, dentists are calling for a renewed effort to clamp down on tooth decay by:

  • Identifying a ‘new home’ for oral health work following the announcement that Public Health England (PHE) will be scrapped
  • Extension of the soft drinks industry levy to milkshakes and other sugary milky drinks
  • Introducing a national supervised tooth brushing scheme in England. This would be based on the ‘Designed to Smile’ programme in Wales and ‘Childsmile’ in Scotland.

Visible decay

Since April 2012, more than 350,000 young people have been admitted to hospital with tooth decay – and 57% of these were aged between five and nine.

Additionally, according to the latest PHE Oral Health Survey of Five Year Old Children, 23.4% of five year olds had visible decay.

‘These latest figures show a welcome decrease of about 8% on 2018/19 in the number of five-nine year olds going into hospital for tooth decay, but the numbers are still far too high,’ said Matthew Garrett, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

‘These are avoidable admissions and more needs to be done to stop the rot in advance.’

Radical reduction

He added: ‘It is likely that lockdown will have had a damaging effect on children’s oral health too. Reduced access to routine dental treatment, and disrupted routines could undermine tooth brushing habits.

‘At the moment oral health has been left out in the cold with Public Health England (PHE) having been scrapped, without replacements for all its functions.

‘We look forward to working with government to resolve this. We are seeking a renewed commitment to sugar taxes and supervised brushing. Only these measures will bring about a radical reduction in the number of children suffering from preventable tooth decay.’


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