Over 20% of Children in England have Tooth Decay
New figures that have been released by the Public Health England has shown that more than 160,000 children of primary school age have got rotten teeth. That equates to over 20% of five year olds. 17,000 of these have already had teeth removed, and research has suggested that 141 children are being admitted to hospital daily in order to have teeth removed, and some of these are as young as one year.
Despite these figures being very worrying, they are slowly starting to improve. A decade ago, 69.1 percent of five year olds showed no obvious signs of dental decay, and this figure had then risen to 76.7 percent by last year. Whilst there are obviously actions that cause this tooth decay, the report does suggest that there was wide variation between regions, and that children who come from more deprived backgrounds are more likely to experience tooth decay.
Speaking of the report findings, the chairman of the British Dental Association said;
“It’s a tragedy that a child’s oral health is still being determined by their postcode.”
Izzi Seccombe, the chairwoman of the Local Government Association’s Community Well-being Board echoed his shock and said;
“Tooth decay is largely preventable yet it is the most common oral disease affecting children and young people…This study underlines how regular visits to a dentist can help prevent tooth decay and the need for this hospital treatment.”
When you consider that NHS dental care is free for children, there really is no excuse for them not to be going at all. Children and infants should be visiting a dentist as soon as their milk teeth appear, and should continue to have regular check ups.
So just why are children suffering from tooth decay? Many experts are putting it down to the sugary drinks that children love to drink, so there is hope that the sugar tax could reduce this number considerably.
Too much sugar is the cause of so many health related diseases, but the main problems that are presented in children are obesity and tooth decay. 20% of children in the last year of primary school are now declared as obese, but this is not the only concern at all. Having teeth removed was the most common reason for children aged 5-9 to be admitted to hospital. There is a huge cost to the NHS as well, estimated to be around £3.4 billion a year, not to mention the fact that children with teeth problems will be in a lot of pain and will likely suffer with eating and sleeping problems.
Experts have highlighted the problems it causes, and how it can so easily be prevented. Dr Sandra White, who is the dental lead for Public Health England, said;
“It’s upsetting to see so many children admitted to hospital with tooth decay, but swapping out sugary drinks could be an easy win for busy families…Parents can also help prevent decay by making sure their children’s teeth are brushed twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and reducing the amount of sugar they’re eating and drinking.”
Seccombe echoed these views, saying;
“These shocking figures strengthen the need for urgent investment in oral health education so that parents and children understand the impact of sugar on teeth and the importance of good oral hygiene….Untreated dental care remains one of the most prevalent and preventable diseases affecting children and young people’s ability to speak, eat, play and socialise.”