Government failure driving child tooth extraction epidemic, say dentists
The British Dental Association (BDA) has responded to figures from the Local Government Association (LGA) revealing 160 children and teenagers are undergoing tooth extractions under general anaesthesia in hospitals in England every day.
Tooth decay is an entirely preventable condition, but has emerged as the leading cause of child hospital admissions. The condition can be effectively managed in primary care – minimising distress to patients and the costs to the health service.
Dentists' leaders have lamented government's unwillingness to tackle the pressures decay is now placing across the NHS. The BDA and Newcastle University recently highlighted the £18m cost patients with dental problems are placing on accident and emergency departments. Last year, the BDA estimated over 600,000 patients a year are opting to head to their GPs seeking dental treatment they are not equipped to provide.
BDA chair Mick Armstrong said: "The millions spent on child tooth extractions in hospitals are emblematic of the Government's disinterest in oral health. We simply cannot keep pouring NHS resources into avoidable surgery while ministers fail to deliver the goods on prevention.
"Authorities in Scotland and Wales have set out dedicated strategies that are making real headway in the fight against a preventable disease. Ministers in England cannot remain bystanders.
"The sugar levy has to be the beginning of a process that sees communities given the tools and the leadership to turn the tide on decay."