NHS spent £40 million removing childrens teeth rotted by sugar
Statistics show that teenagers and children had teeth removed in more than 45,000 hospital operations last year – sparking calls for action against rising sugar consumption.
The extractions, carried out on under 18s across England in 2017/2018, cost the National Health Service (NHS) a whopping £38.9 million.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said that the the figures were also likely to reflect poor oral hygiene as well as an excessive intake of sugary food and drinks.
The numbers also revealed an 18% increase on the 38,208 extractions carried out in 2012/13, which cost the NHS £27.4 million.
Over the last six years, the total cost of the operations to the health service has been estimated at £205 million.
The severity of tooth decay means that the treatments analysed had to be carried out in hospital under general anaesthetic, rather than by a dentist.
Young people in the UK are the biggest consumers of soft drinks in Europe, with two out of five (40%) of 11 to 15 year olds drinking sugary drinks at least once a day.
Now councils, who have responsibility for public health, are increasing the pressure on the government to implement measures that tackle sugar intake.
They have long called for policies such as reducing the amount of sugar in soft drinks and introducing teaspoon labelling on food packaging.
Sugar reduction guidelines for nine food categories were announced by the government in March 2017, but the LGA now wants to have say in deciding where the revenue from the soft drinks levy is spent.
The tax has raised £154 million since its introduction.
Councils are also calling for the government to reverse £600 million in reductions to their public health grants between 2015/16 and 2019/20, used to fund oral health programmes and initiatives to tackle childhood obesity.
These figures, which have risen sharply, highlight the damage that excessive sugar intake is doing to young peoples teeth, said Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGAs community wellbeing board.
The fact that, due to the severity of the decay, 180 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.
This trend shows there is a vital need to introduce measures to curb our sugar addiction which is causing childrens teeth to rot.
There must be a reinvestment in innovative oral health education so that parents and children understand 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 peoples ability to speak, eat, play and socialise.
British Dental Association (BDA) chairman Mick Armstrong stated that tooth decay is the leading cause for hospital admission among children.
The Government says prevention not cure is the mantra, but still treats dentistry as an optional extra, he said.
Tooth decay remains the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children, but ministers have not put a penny of new investment into early years prevention.
In the NHSs 70th year ministers need to offer more than unfunded gimmicks. We require a dedicated and properly resourced national effort to end the scandal of childhood decay.