NHS data has shown that over 100 children are having rotten teeth removed every day. The report has come as a shock to many, as it is well known that tooth decay is a preventable condition.
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This report comes from the British Dental Association (BDA) and states that there was 14,545 tooth extractions between 2017-18 in English children under the age of five. Of these children, ninety percent of cases were due to premature tooth decay.
Further surgeries caused by tooth decay are commonly carried out for children aged between six and ten, says the report. Overall, there have been 38,385 cases of tooth extractions due to decaying teeth among children and teenagers below the age of 19.
Statistics reveal that there is a variation in the prevalence of tooth decay among children across the country. Children living in parts of Yorkshire and the North West, for example, are five times more likely to be hospitalized for tooth extractions compared to children living elsewhere in the country.
Tooth decay rates are highest among children under the age of 5 years living in Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley, Sheffield, and Hyndburn. The BDA warns that the actual numbers may be much more than these figures because a large number may go unreported.
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.”
Mick Armstrong, BDA chairman
Tooth decay is can be prevented by reducing sugar consumption, through the regular use of fluoridated toothpaste and routine visits to the dentist. The BDA supports the expansion of the fluoridated water schemes that serve around 5.8 million people in England.
Dr Sandra White, dental lead for Public Health English said in a statement, “Children are consuming far too much sugar each day, and this can have a very serious impact on their oral health. Parents can help reduce their children's sugar intake by making simple swaps when shopping and making sure their children's teeth are brushed twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Small, consistent changes like these can have the biggest impact on children's teeth.”