United Kingdom: Britain’s tooth decay epidemic saw around 170 youngsters have teeth extracted in hospital every day last year, with sugar blamed for creating an “oral health crisis”.
New NHS spending data shows there were 42,911 hospital procedures to remove multiple teeth from patients aged 18 and under in 2016-17 at a cost of more than £36 million.
It marks a jump of almost a fifth (17 per cent) in the number of extractions performed on young people over the past four years, up from 36,833 in 2012-13.
Hospital teeth removals take place when a patient requires general anaesthetic, which cannot be given by a dentist. The NHS has spent £165 million on such treatment since 2012, past data reveals.
Council chiefs said the spike represented a crisis in dental health, brought on by excessive sugar intake among young people.
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
The findings were also condemned by the British Dental Association, which accused the Government of indifference to the problem.
Chairman 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.
“This short-sightedness means just a few thousand children stand to benefit from policies that need to be reaching millions.”
With the majority of procedures taking place during the week, this would mean roughly 170 such operations have happened on each working day during last year, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) analysis of the data said.
The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, called for a crackdown on unhealthy foods and soft drinks to combat spiralling cases of tooth decay.
Limiting the amount of sugar in soft drinks and putting a teaspoon labels on food to indicate sugar it contains would help slash consumption, the LGA said.