6 April 2018

Leading health charity, the Oral Health Foundation, is calling for urgent action to address the continued increase in the number of children having their teeth extracted in hospitals throughout England.

This call to action follows the release today [6 April 2018] of statistics from Public Health England (PHE) which show that a child in England has a rotten tooth removed in hospital every ten minutes, which is around 141 children a day. 

Speaking about these shocking numbers, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said: "These figures, which demonstrate a continued growth in childhood tooth extractions, are far beyond what anybody should deem acceptable.

"The pain and distress caused to the children undergoing these operations, some of whom have barely reached their first birthday, is absolutely heart-breaking and must be addressed urgently. 

"Tooth decay is the number one reason for childhood hospital admissions for general anaesthesia in the UK and children consuming too much sugar and consuming it too often is the major cause of this. It is also the major factor contributing to childhood obesity and diabetes. 

"We do not feel the 'sugar tax', which comes into effect today, does enough to address the current oral health crisis we're experiencing in England. It fails to address the issue of excessive sugar in fruit juices, milk-based drinks and multi-packs and also does not generate any funds to improve oral health education in the UK.

"These appalling levels of tooth decay must be addressed by reducing childhood sugar intake, in the form of snacks and fizzy drinks.

"Try and limit children's snacking to no more than two a day and replace unhealthy sugary snacks with healthier foods such as fruit and vegetables. The Change4Life mobile app is a great way of helping to achieve this."

Parents can visit the Change4Life website, launched by PHE, for helpful swaps and tips, and download the new Change4Life Food Scanner app to see the sugar, fat, salt and calories in popular foods and drinks.

Recently, Public Health England released a report which demonstrated how the introduction of water fluoridation could dramatically improve the oral health of children throughout the country suffering with tooth decay. 

"We should revisit the issue of community water fluoridation," Dr Carter continued. 

"It is the single most effective and cost-effective measure to reduce decay and yet there have been no new schemes introduced since 1997.

"The evidence given in the report from PHE shows that it could have a huge impact in our fight to reduce tooth decay, especially among deprived communities.

"Furthermore, we should be building on programs across the UK which have been highly successful in reducing levels of childhood tooth decay. Designed to Smile in Wales and Childsmile in Scotland have both demonstrated the importance and necessity of engaging young people in oral health. It is long overdue that England too has its own fully funded system to improve child oral health."