| An urgent improvement in funding for preventive dentistry and oral health education is needed to halt alarming
increase in childhood tooth extraction costs, according to leading health charity.
The Oral Health Foundation have issued the statement following research released by the Local
Government Association (LGA) which shows that hospitals spent £35 million on removing children’s teeth in the last year alone.
The LGA highlight that this cost has increased by an astonishing 66 per cent in the last five years and believe that excessive consumption of fizzy drinks and foods high in added sugar is the major reason behind the surge in cases.
The Oral Health Foundation are shocked by the new figures and believe the government has an important opportunity through the new ‘sugar tax’ to increase levels of oral health education for children and families.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, commented on the research: “These figures are incredibly alarming on two levels.
“Firstly, we have seen these numbers consistently increase over the last five years. That is five years where an awful problem has been highlighted but not addressed. The government has continually failed to acknowledged the problem and address it at its core.
“Secondly, and most importantly, we have to all remember that every single one of these problems is entirely preventable. Valuable NHS resources are being spent on a problem which should not exist in the first place. This is the issue which must be addressed urgently.
“We have to improve children’s knowledge of the appalling health implications of sugary drinks. The government has pledged to plough the estimated £520 million they will earn from the new sugar tax into school sports, yet again ignoring the crisis we are experiencing in children’s oral health in the UK.
“We feel that it is important, necessary and highly appropriate to invest a portion of this funding into increasing awareness about sugar’s impact on oral health. If this does not happen, we will only see the problem continuing to grow.”
The LGA also highlight how poor oral health can seriously affect children and young people’s ability to sleep, eat, speak, play and socialise with others.
Dentist Dr Ben Atkins, Trustee of the Oral Health Foundation added: “It is not just the cost of removing a child’s tooth which needs to be taken into consideration here. The stress and pain put on a child who has to be admitted to hospital for tooth extractions under general anaesthetic takes a substantial toll.
“To have so many children suffering needlessly due to poor oral health is inexcusable. Something is fundamentally wrong and changes must be made.
“We have to get children and families understanding that excessive consumption of sugar is having a devastating impact on oral health. As it stands 40 per cent of 11-15 year olds are drinking at least one sugary drink a day.
“Tooth decay is one of the leading cause of children’s admissions to hospital and the main reason they must undergo general anaesthetic; this is an embarrassing situation with all the advances we have seen in dentistry over the last few decades.
“As we go forward the government must ensure there is a committed focus on prevention and education so we can help stop problems which should not exist in the first place.”
The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) is a nationally recognised body that represents over 4,000 Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists across the UK and beyond.
BSDHT maintain an on-going dialogue with the General Dental Council (GDC), the Departments of Health and all of the main groups representing dental care professionals, and attends meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry, bringing dental hygiene and therapy to the attention of government ministers and MP’s.
Visit www.bsdht.org.uk for more information.
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