A senior dental surgeon has said that sugary drinks and food should carry cigarette-style warning pictures to highlight the risk of the products rotting children's teeth.

Dean of the Royal College of Surgeons' dental faculty Professor Nigel Hunt told the Sunday Times there was a crisis in the number of children who need to have rotten teeth removed.

We are reaching crisis point in terms of the number of children needing to go into the dental hospitals for full-blown general anaesthetics for extraction. Almost 26,000 general anaesthetics are being given to five to nine-year-old children every year to have teeth out now. We are talking frightening figures and the services just can't cope. At many centres, children are having to wait six months to have a general anaesthetic and there is one, in fact, that is over a yea

Dean of the Royal College of Surgeons' dental faculty Professor Nigel Hunt

The Sunday Times reported that hospitals are running extra operations at evenings and weekends to deal with the 46,500 children admitted each year to have teeth removed under general anaesthetic after they are decayed by sugar.Mr Hunt called for fizzy drinks and sweets to be labelled with stark warnings as is the case with tobacco products.

Children's teeth are dramatically healthier than they were 10 years ago but it still needs to improve. We are radically changing NHS dentistry, so that dentists will be paid for keeping the nations' teeth healthy, rather than just for treating problems as they arise. We have asked for expert advice about the amount of sugar we should be eating, which will be published soon, and this will be taken into account as we continue to work on our childhood obesity strategy. >

A Department of Health spokesman