Local Government Association: Nearly 180 operations a day to remove rotten teeth in children

24 August 2020

Latest figures showing nearly 45,000 hospital operations to remove rotten teeth in children and teenagers – equating to 177 a day – have led councils to warn of a potential post-coronavirus surge of dental treatments following the lifting of lockdown.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils, says the stark numbers highlight the dangers of too much sugary food and drink in youngsters’ diets, as well as poor oral hygiene, which is likely to have worsened during the last few months, while children and teenagers have been stuck indoors.

There were 44,685 extractions of multiple teeth in under-18s in England in 2018/19 at a cost of £41.5m, according to latest NHS spending data. This is equal to 177 per working day, an increase of 17 per cent compared to the 38,208 extractions in 2012/13, which cost £27.4m.

The vast majority of these extractions are due to tooth decay. The severity of the tooth decay means that the treatment has to be undertaken in a hospital under general anaesthetic, rather than a dentist. Councils, which have responsibility for public health, are now concerned that some children and young people who have been at home for months during lockdown could be risking their oral health by snacking on sugary food and drink.

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