Recent data shows that throughout England and Wales, 170 children and teenagers are having operations to remove teeth that have been rotted by sugar every day.
According to an analysis of NHS statistics by the Local Government Association, there were 42,911 multiple tooth extraction operations on patients below the age of 18 during 2016 and 2017.
Dental health officials said ministers should be ashamed of these figures and that the sugar addiction in the area is out of control.
These cases are being handled in hospitals because they get to the point of being too complex for a dentist to safely handle.
“These statistics are a badge of dishonour for health ministers, who have failed to confront a wholly preventable disease,” stated Mick Armstrong, British Dental Association (BDA) chair.
Baby teeth begin to grow around 6 months, so the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a trip to the dentist before your child’s first birthday. The BDA says that a lack of funding for the Government’s flagship oral health program is only allowing it to reach “a few thousand children”.
It goes on to add that the flagship “Starting Well” policy, which is meant to help children under the age of five who are at risk for dental issues, had no additional funding and is only being implemented in 13 local authorities. However, NHS England officials claim the organization is working with the dental profession to help 70,000 more children have a dental visit before their second birthday.
With 99.7% of respondents to an AACD survey believing a healthy smile is socially important, people generally pay dental expenses willingly. However, the total bill for tooth extractions in England and Wales since 2012 topped £165m, with the expenses spiking again in 2016/17.
The Local Government Association is calling for councils to be given local spending powers for a portion of the money raised from the Government’s sugar tax.
A new Government tax on soft drinks filled with sugar has already lead to manufacturers changing their formulas to avoid the tax expenses.
Dr. Sarah Wollaston MP, and chair of the Commons Health Committee, hopes that the Government continues to gradually extend sugar controls.
“NHS dental care for children is free, and tooth decay is preventable, but eating sugary food and drinks is driving this unfortunate and unnecessary epidemic of extractions,” an NHS England spokeswoman said.