The BBC have recently reported on the alarm amongst dentists regarding the government’s approach to tooth decay in England. In today’s article, we consider some of the statistics that bring rise to these concerns, and think about what more needs to be done.
Over the last 5 years, there has been a shocking increase in the number of children (aged under 18) who have had teeth removed in hospital. For the year 2012-2013, this figure sat at 36,833, whereas for 2016-2017, this number had risen to 42,911. This sharp increase does not tell the whole story: these figures relate solely to extractions that have taken place in hospital, and don’t include the removal of teeth at dental surgeries. In financial terms, the cost of tooth extractions would have cost the NHS in the region of £36 million last year. Dentists have described how, despite most of their patients falling into the age range of five-nine years, increasingly young patients were now needing teeth removing due to tooth decay.
Some may question why these figures are on the increase. Many say that a leading cause of tooth decay and subsequent tooth extraction is the consumption of sugary food and drinks. With a vast array of sweet snacks available on the market, children are simply eating and drinking too much sugar. This is having a detrimental effect on their oral health, and leading to tooth decay. Without treatment, or a reduction in sugary food and drinks, this can lead to a need for fillings or extractions.
These facts and figures have hit the headlines recently as some dentists feel that the government is not doing enough to improve the oral health of the nation. Despite having said that they are ‘determined’ to see a reduction in tooth extractions, the BBC reported that the government’s leading policy on this issue, ‘Starting Well’, had not received any new or additional funding, therefore limiting it’s potential to operate and improve outcomes and drive down extraction levels.
The government is said to have responded to the concerns raised by highlighting the new sugar tax, which will see soft drinks with high levels of sugar subject to a tax. This comes into effect from April. In addition, the role of parents in reducing the amount of sugary foods and drinks their children consume was highlighted.
On the 18th January, a debate will take place in the House of Lords to consider how children are supported with their oral health care through treatment and examinations.
For more information, and for the full BBC article, please visit their website. If you are concerned about the oral health of your son or daughter, please contact us today, on 01235 533777, to discuss this in more detail.