£35 million being spent removing children's decaying teeth

Almost 20% of five year olds in Suffolk have tooth decay Credit: ITV News

New figures show that £35 million pounds is being spent every year on removing decaying teeth from children.

The Local Government Association says more than 100 operations take place every day on the under 18s, forcing children to miss school for hospital appointments.

In Suffolk, almost 20% of five year olds have had decaying teeth removed before they even start school.

Mr Barrett and Miss Back teach a year three class at Tollgate Primary School, Bury St Edmunds Credit: ITV News Anglia

At Tollgate Primary School, part of the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust, children have been having a special lesson on dental health.

The seven and eight year olds from year three have been getting 'hands-on' with tooth brushing and flossing by using their hands as their teeth.

The children pretended their fingers were teeth as they covered them in jam Credit: ITV News Anglia

"We had a glove, you had to put if over your hand and put it in some food and your partner had to brush it off with a toothbrush."

Jack, year three pupil

The Local Government Association says the cost of removing children's decaying teeth has risen by 66 % in the last five years to £35 million a year.

It puts the blame mainly down to sugary drinks.

"Much clearer labelling, so that mums and dads and older children who are buying the drinks can tell at a glance just how much sugar there is in the drink that they are buying because it can be very difficult to tell. By better labelling we can address the concern which is the large amount of sugar that people are consuming in drinks."

David Simmonds, Local Government Association

"We're not born with a sweet tooth that is something that we learn as we go along. What parents need to do is brush their children's teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste from when the first tooth arrives."

Henrik Overgaard Nielson, British Dental Association

In Suffolk almost 20% of five year olds have decaying teeth, some have had to have three or four removed before they even start school.

Suffolk County Council is running a five year scheme called 'Keep Suffolk Smiling", to try to bring those figures down.

9,000 packs have been handed out to parents, which include a leaflet, toothpaste and a toothbrush.

"It's a healthy leaflet, toothbrush, toothpaste and it's basically an opportunity for a health visitor to have a conversation with the family around oral health and to make them aware of some of the issues and give them guidance on where to go to get further help."

Michael Hattrell, Health Improvement Commissioner, Suffolk County Council
The children used string to 'floss' between their fingers. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"We can be sure that they'll go home with that learning stuck in their mind and they've realised it's important to clean their teeth well and that flossing is important as well to help them look after their own teeth."

David Barrett, Deputy Headteacher, Tollgate Primary School