Child tooth extractions up by a quarter in past decade

THE number of tooth extractions performed on young children in England has risen by almost a quarter in the past 10 years, according to new figures.

Just over 84,000 procedures were carried out on 0-4 year olds between 2006/07 and 2015/16. The 24 per cent increase in child extractions outstrips the 16 per cent rise in the population of 0-4 year olds over the same period.

The data was obtained by the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) from NHS Digital under a Freedom of Information request.

The Faculty blamed poor child dental health on "the scourge of sugar" and appealed to parents and the Government to take stronger action.

FDS dean Professor Nigel Hunt said: “That children as young as one or two need to have teeth extracted is shocking. It’s almost certain that the majority of these extractions will be down to tooth decay caused by too much sugar in diets."

He said removal of teeth, particularly in hospital under general anaesthetic, was not to be taken lightly and criticised the attitude of some parents who argue "they are only baby teeth", adding: "Baby teeth set the pattern for adult teeth, including tooth decay."

The figures obtained by the Faculty also showed more than 34,000 extractions were performed on children aged 0-9 in each of the last two years. There were 34,788 extractions in 2014/15 and 34,003 in 2015/16, higher than in any single year between 2005/06 and 2013/14.

Professor Hunt said the figures were particularly distressing because 90 per cent of tooth decay is preventable through reducing sugar consumption, regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste and routine dental visits. But despite NHS dental treatment being free for under-18s, 42 per cent of children did not see a dentist in 2015/16.

He called for a "significant proportion" of the money raised via the Government’s planned sugar levy to be spent on oral education. The levy is expected to come into force from April 2018.

Link: The Faculty of Dental Surgery’s report The state of children’s oral health in England