Young children had rotting teeth removed in hospital more than a 100 times last year, ‘horrifying’ figures have revealed.
Health experts are now urging parents to cut down their children’s sugar intake.
Children aged 10 and under had teeth removed in North Devon hospitals 115 times between April 2017 and March 2018.
Of those, more than 80 per cent were to remove because of rot caused by preventable decay - 95 in all. That gives a rate of 852 such procedures per 100,000 population
Across Devon, children aged 10 and under had teeth removed times between the same dates. Of those, more than 80 per cent were removed because of rot caused by preventable decay - 635 in all. That gives a rate of 717 such procedures per 100,000 population.
The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) called the figures ‘horrifying’. Professor Michael Escudier, from the RCS, said: “Tens of thousands of young children are having to go through the distressing experience of having their teeth removed under general anaesthetic for a problem that is 90 per cent avoidable.”
Children in parts of Yorkshire and the North West were the worst affected, according to the British Dental Association, with Doncaster having the highest extraction rate at five times the national average.
The BDA also said the official numbers are likely to underestimate the true scale of the problem.
Chairman Mick Armstrong said: “Children’s oral health shouldn’t be a postcode lottery, but these figures show just how wide the oral health gap between rich and poor has become.”
He said the policies currently used in Wales and Scotland to tackle tooth decay ‘would pay for themselves’.
Both countries have dedicated child oral health programmes, providing young children with free toothbrushes and offering daily supervised brushing sessions in nursery schools.
Mr Armstrong added: “The Government’s own figures show a pound spent on prevention can yield over three back in savings on treatment.”
Most children are consuming more than double the daily recommended sugar intake of five cubes, according to Public Health England, which can have a serious impact on oral health.
PHE dental lead, Dr Sandra White, advised parents to ‘make a swap when you next shop’, replacing sugary drinks, yoghurts and breakfast cereals with low-sugar alternatives.
Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and regularly visiting the dentist can also prevent tooth decay.
Across England, 32,000 under-11s had rotting teeth removed last year, and two out of five children were less than six years old.