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LGA - More than 160 operations a day to remove rotting teeth in children

New figures show there were more than 40,000 hospital operations to remove teeth in children and teenagers last year – the equivalent of more than 160 a day – with council leaders calling for radical action on sugar.

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, says that excessive consumption of sugary food and drink and poor oral hygiene is likely to be a major cause behind the high number of cases.

Latest annual data on NHS spending in 2015/16 reveals there were 40,800 extractions of multiple teeth in under 18s in England at a cost of more than £35.6 million.

This is a 10.7 per cent rise in the number of operations from 36,833 in 2012/13, which from 2012 to 2016 has cost the NHS a total of £129 million.

The scale of tooth decay is so severe that the treatment has to take place in a hospital under general anaesthetic, rather than at a dentist.

On average a total of 161 operations to remove teeth per working day took place in 2015/16.

This comes after Public Health England last week said that children consume half the daily recommended sugar intake before school – with almost three sugar cubes at breakfast time alone.

Councils, which have responsibility for public health, have long been calling for the Government to take tough action on sugar including reducing the amount of sugar in soft drinks and introducing teaspoon labelling on the front of products.

The LGA says councils should also be given a say in deciding how and where the revenue from the soft drinks levy is spent.

Chairman of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said:

"These figures are a stark reminder of the damage excessive sugar consumption is doing to our children's teeth.

"It is deeply worrying that the type of dental treatment required is beyond the capacity of a local dentist, due to the severity of the tooth decay, and as a result has to be done in a hospital.

"The fact there are more than 160 operations taking place each day to remove teeth in children and teenagers should be a wake-up call to the urgent need to take radical action on our nation's addiction to sugar.

"But it also goes to show the importance of having a good oral hygiene routine, as well as how regular dentist trips can ensure tooth decay is tackled at an early stage.

"Poor oral health can affect children and young people's ability to sleep, eat, speak, play and socialise with others. Having good oral health can help children learn at school, and improve their ability to thrive and develop."


Tackling poor oral health in children: local government's public health role:


Data on multiple tooth extractions in under 18s can be found in the latest NHS reference costs:

2015/16 – 40,800 extractions of multiple teeth in under 18s - £35,622,696

2014/15 - 40,970 - £35,299,504

2013/14 - 39,175 - £30,926,165

2012/13 - 36,833 - £27,264,657

Calculation of 161 operations a day based on dividing 40,800 by number of working days in both 2015 and 2016, which was 253. Elective procedures to remove teeth in hospitals almost invariably take place on working days.

Children consume half the daily recommended sugar intake before the morning school bell rings

Youngsters in the UK are the biggest soft drinkers in Europe – with 40 per cent of 11 to 15-year-olds drinking sugary drinks at least once a day. Poland is the second highest at 27 per cent, and Germany third with 18.5 per cent. (page 19)

Children aged 11-18 get 40 per cent of their added sugars from soft drinks

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