English children get 'second-class' NHS dentistry

Little boy with blond hair sitting on a dental chair. Child has opened his mouths. The dentist inspects his teeth with instruments

Little boy with blond hair sitting on a dental chair. Child has opened his mouths. The dentist inspects his teeth with

Health officials come under fire after figures show operations to remove the teeth of youngsters in England have risen sharply.

There were almost 43,000 hospital operations to remove teeth in children and teenagers past year - equating to 170 a day, the latest figures show.

Analysis of NHS spending data by the Local Government Association (LGA) found that £36.2m was spent on 42,911 extractions for under-18s in 2016/17, which equates to 170 operations a day.

The total cost to the NHS of tooth extractions, which have to be carried out under general anaesthetic and typically involve removing several teeth at once, adds up to £165million since 2012.

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PHE has called for children to be limited to just two snacks of no more than 100 calories per day, having found that they now eat nearly 400 biscuits per year - plus hundreds of other sugary snacks.

The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, said further action is needed to tackle the amount of sugar that is being consumed and has long called for measures such as reducing the amount in soft drinks and introducing teaspoon labelling on food packaging.

Dr Sandra White, Public Health England's director of dental public health, said: "Parents can reduce tooth decay through cutting back on their children's sugary food and drink, encouraging them to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, and trips to the dentist as often as advised".

The NHS is having to spend millions of pounds on hospital operations to remove children's teeth as excessive sugar consumption drives an "alarming" deterioration in dental health.

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The Local Government Association said: "There is an urgent need to curb our sugar addiction".

"Untreated dental care remains one of the most prevalent diseases affecting children and young people's ability to speak, eat, play and socialise". Under-18s in England were receiving "second-class" services to prevent rotten teeth, in contrast to Scotland and Wales, both of which have a dedicated national programme, Armstrong added.

"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".

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Prof Russell Viner, officer for health promotion at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said ministers should ban television advertisements for foods high in fat, salt or sugar before the 9pm watershed and stop fast food shops opening near schools and colleges.

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