Dental Tribune UK & Ireland

Caries in children: English dentists extract 160 teeth a day

By Dental Tribune International
January 17, 2017

LONDON, UK: More than 40,000 hospital operations to remove teeth in children and teenagers were performed last year in England, according to the latest National Health Service (NHS) statistics. Consequently, public health council leaders have called for radical action to reduce sugar consumption among that age group especially to prevent the development of caries.

The latest annual data on NHS spending in 2015/16 shows there were 40,800 extractions of multiple teeth in children younger than 18 years of age in England, at a cost of more than £35.6 million (about €41 million). This is a 10.7 per cent rise in the number of operations in 2012/13. From 2012 to 2016, the NHS has spent a total of £129 million (€148.5 million) on such procedures.

On average, 161 extractions per working day were performed in 2015/16. The scale of tooth decay was often so severe that treatment had to take place in hospital under general anaesthetic, rather than at the dentist’s office. This comes after Public Health England last week said that children consume half the daily recommended sugar intake before school—with almost three sugar cubes at breakfast time alone. The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, stated that poor oral hygiene and excessive consumption of sugary food and drink are likely to be the major causes of the high number of cases.

Councils, which have responsibility for public health, have long been calling on the government to take tough action on sugar, including reducing the amount of sugar in soft drinks and introducing teaspoon labelling on the front of products.

The LGA said that councils should be given a say in deciding how and where the revenue from the soft-drinks levy is spent.

The Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, Councillor Izzi Seccombe, said: “These figures are a stark reminder of the damage excessive sugar consumption is doing to our children’s teeth. 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.”

She further stated that the numbers point to the importance of a good oral hygiene routine and regular dentist trips to ensure tooth decay is addressed at an early stage. “Having good oral health can help children learn at school, and improve their ability to thrive and develop,” Seccombe added. “Poor oral health can affect children and young people’s ability to sleep, eat, speak, play and socialise with others.”

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