3rd September 2020
Shocking Toll of Sugary Drinks on Kids' Teeth Revealed by Extraction Figures
The Local Government Association uncovered stats showing how many ops were taking place to remove children's rotting teeth
Nearly 180 hospital operations a day are performed to remove children's rotting teeth, a study reveals today.
There were 44,685 extractions of multiple teeth in under-18s in England in 2018/19 – costing £41.5million, according to latest NHS spending figures uncovered by the Local Government Association.
That works out at 177 per working day – a rise of 17% compared with the 38,208 extractions carried out in 2012/13, which cost £27.4million.
Town hall leaders and dentists said the shocking numbers highlighted the dangers of too much sugary food and drink in youngsters’ diets, as well as poor oral hygiene.
They fear the situation is likely to have worsened during the coronavirus lockdown when children were stuck indoors.
British Dental Association chairman Mick Armstrong said: “It's inevitable these figures will go from bad to worse, as lockdown diets, the suspension of public health programmes and the collapse in access take their toll.
“Government cannot remain a passive observer.
"Any retreat from public health activity will hit England’s most deprived communities.
“Ministers must ensure the prevention agenda does not become another casualty of this pandemic.”
The LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board chairman Ian Hudspeth said: “These latest figures demonstrate the damage which can be done to young people’s teeth through too much sugar intake.
“The fact that, due to the severity of the decay, 177 operations a day to remove multiple teeth in children and teenagers have to be done in a hospital is concerning and also adds to current pressures on the NHS.
“We need to do all we can to reduce how much sugar our children eat and drink, including investing in oral health education so that everyone understands 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.”
The vast majority of the extractions were due to tooth decay.
The severity of decay meant the removals has to be performed in hospital under general anaesthetic, rather than at a dentist's surgery, the LGA said.
Previous public health research revealed 23% of five-year-olds in 2019 had dental decay.
Some 34% of children from more deprived areas were likely to have dental decay compared with 14% of youngsters from less deprived areas – meaning kids from poorer backgrounds were more than twice as likely to suffer with rotting teeth.
The LGA called for more cash to tackle public health problems – including reversing what it said was a £700million cut in the public health grant to councils between 2015/16 and 2019/20.
It wants the grant lifted to at least £3.9billion a year by 2024/25.
Action on Sugar nutritionist Katharine Jenner said: “These findings are truly shocking, especially as many parents have no idea their children are eating and drinking so much sugar.
“Added sugar has found its way into many food and drink products and, aside from contributing to obesity and Type 2 diabetes, the widespread availability of sugar leads to toothache and unnecessary suffering – mentally and physically.
“We need to dramatically reduce sugar in our diet and take serious action on sugar now.”
Dr Saul Konviser, of the Dental Wellness Trust, said: “Everyday we, as dentists, see a large number of children that require not just a simple filling but often multiple fillings or extractions, which is often a result of consuming too many sugary foods and drinks.
“What is worse is that it is almost completely unavoidable.
“From the work that we do, we know strategies such as oral health prevention and toothbrushing programmes in schools and nurseries is one way of supporting this long overdue “prevention better than cure” ethos.
“We now urgently call on the Government for more funding – especially as lockdown prevented many children from accessing a clean toothbrush and toothpaste."
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Children’s oral health in England is among the best in the world, and in the last year more than seven million children have been seen by a dentist.
“But we are determined to go further in improving children’s oral health, particularly in deprived areas.
“We are taking steps to reduce children’s sugar consumption, which is a leading cause of tooth decay – including by cutting sugar from half of drinks on sale and ending ‘buy one get one free’ deals on unhealthy food.
“We have also committed to rolling out more toothbrushing schemes in schools and nurseries as part of our approach to preventing ill health.
“All dental practices can now open, and over 600 NHS urgent dental care centres have been in place across England throughout the pandemic to treat patients wherever they live and whatever their financial circumstances.”
Source: The Mirror
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