New figures suggest that more children than ever before are undergoing tooth extraction under general anaesthetic.
Official figures, which have been made available by the Local Government Association, show that almost 41,000 procedures took place in 2015/2016; this represents an increase of 10.7 percent from 2012/2013. One hundred and sixty procedures are taking place every day across the country.
Dean of the dental faculty at the Royal College of Surgeons, Prof Nigel Hunt, blamed the shocking increase on sugar consumption among young people. He claimed that the “awful impact” sugar has on our children is clear to see thanks to statistics related to dental decay. More than ninety percent of cases of decay are preventable, yet doctors are carrying out 160 extraction procedures every day. Children are subjected to pain, and councils and the NHS simply cannot afford to fund this kind of treatment on such an expansive scale.
Prof Hunt commented that the sugar tax, due to come into play in 2018, may have a positive impact, but insisted that more needs to be done to ensure that parents and older children are aware of the damaging impact of sugar consumption, and that they understand how to protect their teeth and prevent decay. Brushing twice-daily with fluoride toothpaste and seeing a dentist every 6-12 months are essential for good oral health.
The cost of 40,800 dental procedures was estimated at around £35.6 million.
Izzi Seccombe, from the Local Government Association, stated that the figures were a “stark reminder” of the effects of excessive sugar consumption. Children are undergoing treatment in hospital at vast cost to the NHS and they are faced with the trauma of being separated from their parents and having to have surgery.