The British Dental Association (BDA) has called on government to put prevention at the heart of its approach to the crisis on child tooth decay, as new figures showed over 14,000 children aged 5 and under had been admitted to hospital for tooth extraction in 2014/15.
Analysis of data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has also revealed a 10 per cent increase in children requiring tooth extractions in the last four years.
News comes as the government has supposedly abandoned plans for a sugar tax as part of its long delayed obesity strategy. The BDA has led calls for action to improve children’s oral health, and championed action on sugar.
Mick Armstrong, Chair of the British Dental Association said: ‘These new figures should offer a wake-up call to government on its failure to get to grips with prevention.
“Under-fives are ending up in hospital for tooth extractions because successive governments have treated oral health as an afterthought. An entirely preventable disease has been left to emerge as the leading cause of hospital admissions among children. That means paying a premium for general anaesthesia, when we should be saving pain and money by aiming to keep healthy teeth in healthy mouths.
“This evidence underlines the fact that oral health inequalities are widening. Today, sugar consumption is driving decay, simple health messages are struggling to be heard, and dentists are told their priority isn’t prevention, but hitting government targets. We are dealing with an avoidable epidemic, and are looking to government for real leadership, not more half measures.”