Stark figures on child tooth decay prompts call to action

NEARLY 43,000 hospital operations were undertaken to remove teeth in teenagers and children last year – equating to 170 a day – according to new figures highlighted by the Local Government Association (LGA) in England.

This has prompted council leaders to demand urgent action from Government to implement measures to reduce sugar intake, such as reducing the amount in soft drinks and introducing teaspoon labelling on food packaging.

New NHS spending date reveals that there were 42,911 extractions of multiple teeth in under 18s in England in 2016/17 at a cost of £36.2 million – a 17 per cent increase on the 36,833 in 2012/13. The total cost to the NHS of these operations since 2012 is £165 million.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: "These figures, which have risen sharply, show that we have an oral health crisis and highlight the damage that excessive sugar intake is doing to young people’s teeth.

"There must be a reinvestment in innovative oral health education so that parents and children understand the impact of sugar on teeth and the importance of a good oral hygiene regime."

The BDA has also insisted that national authorities must provide resources to enable all children in England to benefit. It advocates the Scottish programme Childsmile as a potential model for England, a national effort in nurseries and schools with both universal and targeted components that has already reduced the bill for dental treatment costs by £5 million a year.

The BDA has also called for a proportion of the sugar levy to be earmarked for oral health initiatives.

BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said: "These statistics are a badge of dishonour for health ministers, who have failed to confront a wholly preventable disease.

"Tooth decay is the number one reason for child hospital admissions, but communities across England have been left hamstrung without resources or leadership."