1. ITV Report

Rise in number of young children having teeth taken out in hospital

File photo of a dentist at work. Credit: PA

The number of hospital tooth extractions for children aged under four has increased by 24% in the last decade, new data has shown.

Figures, obtained by the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), shows a rise in extractions from 7,444 in 2006/7, to 9,206 in 2015/16.

The RSC said the data is set against a 16% rise in the population of children under the age of four in this period.

File photo of tooth brush with paste on. Credit: PA
The number of procedures between 2006/07 and 2015/16.
The number of extractions in children under the age of one in 2015/16.
The number of tooth extractions in children under the age of nine in the last two years.

Professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery, said: "What is really distressing about these figures is that 90% of tooth decay is preventable through reducing sugar consumption, regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste and routine dental visits.

"Despite NHS dental treatment being free for under-18s, 42% of children did not see a dentist in 2015/16."

A file photo of children being taught how to clean their teeth. Credit: PA

When you see the numbers tallied up like this it becomes abundantly clear that the sweet habits of our children are having a devastating effect on the state of their teeth.

That children as young as one or two need to have teeth extracted is shocking. It's almost certain that the majority of these extractions will be down to tooth decay caused by too much sugar in diets.

Removal of teeth, especially in hospital under general anaesthetic, is not to be taken lightly.

There tends to be an attitude of 'oh, they are only baby teeth' but in actual fact how teeth are looked after in childhood impacts oral health in adulthood. Baby teeth set the pattern for adult teeth, including tooth decay.

– Professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery

Dr Jenny Godson, national lead for oral health improvement at Public Health England, said: "Tooth decay impacts on a child's ability to sleep, eat, speak and socialise, with some needing teeth removed in hospital.

"Tooth decay is preventable and we can all take action - this includes limiting sugary food and drink, making sure children brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, especially before bed, and visiting the dentist regularly."