New NHS figures show there were 44,685 extractions of multiple teeth in under-18s in England during 2018/19.
This equates to a 17% rise in the number of extractions in children since 2012/13. The total cost to the NHS is now £41.5 million, rising from £27.4 million in 2012/13.
Local Government Association figures show the majority of these extractions are due to tooth decay. Councils are now warning of a post-coronavirus surge in dental treatments following lockdown.
‘These latest figures demonstrate the damage which too much sugar can do to young people’s teeth,’ Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, says.
‘The fact that, due to the severity of the decay, 177 operations a day to remove multiple teeth in children and teenagers have to be done in a hospital is concerning. It also adds to current pressures on the NHS.
‘We need to do all we can to reduce how much sugar our children eat and drink. This includes investing in oral health education. So everyone understands 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 young people’s ability to socialise.’
Backlog of cases
The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) is also calling for a resumption of toothbrushing schemes to tackle the figures.
It claims the number of children requiring anaesthetics for extractions was starting to come down before COVID hit. However, a pause on general anaesthetics during lockdown has created a backlog of cases.
The BSPD also believes dental caries prevalence will increase in children due to lockdown forcing them to stay home with more opportunities to snack.
‘As ever, the BSPD is keen to work with all stakeholders involved in the care and welfare of children to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on their oral health,’ Claire Stevens, BSPD spokesperson, says.
Previous public health research shows 23% of five-year-olds in 2019 showed signs of dental decay.
However, children from more deprived areas are more than twice as likely to experience decay when compared with those from more affluent areas.
Meanwhile, 70% of families with children under five report more snacking in their households during the lockdown. That’s more than double the figures of households without young children.