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Removing rotten teeth the most common hospital procedure for kids | UK News



More than 100 children a day are having rotten teeth pulled out in hospital because of decay that is preventable.

NHS data analysed by the British Dental Association (BDA) showed that children aged five and under accounted for 14,545 tooth extractions in 2017/18 in England, with almost nine out of ten -12,783- being for tooth decay.

And the problem is not just confined to the very youngest children. Tooth extraction is the most common hospital procedure among six to 10-year-olds in England.

Among all children up to the age of 19, some 38,385 procedures were carried out to remove decaying teeth.

The figures also showed a significant regional variation in those being treated with children in parts of Yorkshire and the North West up to five times more likely to undergo hospital extractions than the national average.

The BDA said the actual numbers could be much worse with official figures understating the scale of the problem because of gaps in the data.

BDA chairman Mick Armstrong said: “Children’s oral health shouldn’t be a postcode lottery, but these figures show just how wide the oral health gap between rich and poor has become.

“While Wales and Scotland have national programmes making real inroads, in England ministers are yet to commit a penny of new money to the challenge.

“This poverty of ambition is costing our NHS millions, even though tried-and-tested policies would pay for themselves.

“The Government’s own figures show a pound spent on prevention can yield over three back in savings on treatment.”

PHE says tooth decay can be largely prevented by reducing sugar consumption, using fluoride toothpastes and routine visits to the dentist.

It also runs the Change4Life health campaign, which offers parents help and advice on reducing the amount of sugar in children’s diets.

And the PDA wants to see fluoridated water, currently supplied to around 5.8 million people in England, made available to the whole of the country.

Dr Max Davie, officer for health improvement at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “Despite being highly preventable, tooth decay remains a significant public health issue, particularly in deprived areas where children are three times more likely to experience severe tooth decay due to higher sugar diets and poorer oral hygiene.

“We know that poor dental health can have a major impact on a child’s physical health and quality of life, and lead to problems such as infections, eating difficulties, and absences from school.

“Reducing the amount of sugar consumed by children, particularly in fizzy drinks, is vital, as well as the provision of ongoing, regular, and easily accessible dental care.”

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