New figures show there were nearly 43,000 hospital operations to remove teeth in children and teenagers last year – equating to 170 a day – prompting local Liberal Democrats to call for urgent action to tackle sugar.
The figures, made public by the Local Government Association, shows there were 42,911 extractions of multiple teeth in under 18s in England in 2016/17 at a cost of £36.2 million, according to new NHS spending data. This is 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. The severity of the tooth decay means that the treatment has to be undertaken in a hospital under general anaesthetic, rather than a dentist.
The Local Government Association is calling for councils to have a say in deciding where the revenue from the soft drinks levy – due to be introduced in April – is spent.
Local Liberal Democrat Councillor, Meri O’Connell said:
“The fact that, due to the severity of the decay, 170 operations a day to remove teeth in children and teenagers have to be done in a hospital is alarming and also adds to current pressures on the NHS.
“This concerning trend shows there is an urgent need to introduce measures to curb our sugar addiction which is causing children’s teeth to rot.
“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.
“Untreated dental care remains one of the most prevalent diseases affecting children and young people’s ability to speak, eat, play and socialise.
“These figures also highlight how regular check-ups at a dentist can help prevent tooth decay and the need for hospital treatment.”