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Shocking 24% increase in tooth extractions performed on children aged 0-4 in last decade

21 Mar 2017

New analysis by the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons shows there been a 24% rise in the number of tooth extractions performed on 0-4 year olds in hospitals in England over the last decade. This is the first time long term data for 0-4 year olds has been published.

NHS Digital figures, provided under a Freedom of Information request, show there were 84,086 procedures carried out on 0-4 year olds between 2006/07 and 2015/16. This is a steep increase when compared to a 16% increase in the population of 0-4 year olds over the same period.

Dentists are appealing to parents and the Government to take stronger action against the scourge of sugar on children’s teeth.  Professor Nigel Hunt, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), said:

“When you see the numbers tallied up like this it becomes abundantly clear that the sweet habits of our children are having a devastating effect on the state of their teeth. That children as young as one or two need to have teeth extracted is shocking.  It’s almost certain that the majority of these extractions will be down to tooth decay caused by too much sugar in diets.

“Removal of teeth, especially in hospital under general anaesthetic, is not to be taken lightly. There tends to be an attitude of “oh, they are only baby teeth” but in actual fact how teeth are looked after in childhood impacts oral health in adulthood. Baby teeth set the pattern for adult teeth, including tooth decay.”

The figures also show more than 34,000 tooth extractions were performed on 0-9s in each of the last two years.  This is higher than at any point in the previous decade. There were 34,788 extractions in 2014/15 and 34,003 in 2015/16, higher than in any single year between 2005/06 and 2013/14.

Professor Hunt added:

“What is really distressing about these figures is that 90% of tooth decay is preventable through reducing sugar consumption, regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste and routine dental visits. Despite NHS dental treatment being free for under-18s, 42% of children did not see a dentist in 2015/16.

“We’d like to see a significant proportion of the money raised through the Government’s sugar levy spent on oral health education. Sugar has an almost immediate damaging impact on teeth and if we teach parents and children to cut down on sweet treats and look after their teeth properly, there will be a positive knock-on effect for childhood obesity rates too.”  

The Government will set out detailed legislation for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy in the Finance Bill 2017.  Implementation of the levy is expected from April 2018 onwards.

FDS also says that health workers and school nurses have a role to play in educating parents and children about dental health.


Notes to editors

1.    Figures for tooth extractions from 2006/07 to 2011/12 taken from data supplied by NHS Digital under Freedom of Information

2.    Figures for tooth extractions from 2012/13 to 2015/16 taken from NHS Digital’s Hospital Episode Statistics/ Admitted Patient Care Statistics: http://www.content.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB22378

3.    Comparison of increase in 0-4 year old population and 0-4 year old tooth extractions over the same period:

0-4 year old population change*

% increase

0-4 year old tooth extractions**

% increase

2006 to 2015 (10 years)

16%

2006/07 to 2015/16 (10 years)

24%

2010 to 2014

5%

2010/11 to 2014/15

21%

2010 to 2015

5%

2010/11 to 2015/16

18%


*Office for National Statistics population figures: MYEDE Population Estimates for High Level Areas

** Data supplied under Freedom of Information and taken from NHS Digital’s Hospital Episode Statistics/ Admitted Patient Care Statistics.

4.    The annual breakdown of tooth extractions in hospital on 0-9s for the ten years from 2006/07 to 2015/16 is as follows:

Total Procedures

Age 0

Age 1-4

Age 5-9

Age 0-4

Age 0-9

2006/07

23

7,421

20,316

7,444

27,760

2007/08

23

7,376

20,379

7,399

27,778

2008/09

26

8,007

20,889

8,033

28,932

2009/10

30

7,989

20,920

8,019

28,939

2010/11

31

7,889

21,011

7,920

28,931

2011/12

34

8,559

22,675

8,593

31,268

2012/13

44

8,668

23,484

8,712

32,196

2013/14

31

9,143

24,484

9,174

33,713

2014/15

39

9,547

24,539

9,586

34,788

2015/16

47

9,159

25,202

9,206

34,003

Totals

328

83,758

223,899

 

84,086

308,308


5.    The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling dentists and specialists to provide patients with the highest possible       standards of practice and care.

6.    A copy of the Faculty of Dental Surgery’s report ‘The state of children’s oral health in England’ can be accessed here: https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/library-and-publications/college-publications/docs/report-childrens-oral-health/

7.    For more information, please contact the RCS Press Office:
       Telephone: 020 7869 6047/07738005924
       Email: pressoffice@rcseng.ac.uk
       For out of hours media enquiries: 07966 486832

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