Action call over South Tyneside child dental figures
Almost 100 children in South Tyneside needed rotting teeth removed last year, new figures show.
Dental experts say the figures are a legacy of the disruption to public health programmes caused by the pandemic and the effect of “lockdown diets" on children’s oral health.
The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities figures show 85 children in South Tyneside had at least one tooth removed in hospital due to decay in the 12 months to March 2022 – up from around 65 the year before.
A total of 120 extractions were undertaken in the area, meaning decay accounted for 71% of all procedures.
Nationally, 42,200 extractions were conducted on children in hospitals last year – up from 22,500 the year before.
The data also shows that tooth decay is the most common reason for hospital admission in children aged between six to 10 – and that children in less well off communities are around 3.5 times more likely to have teeth out due to decay than those in the most affluent areas.
The British Dental Association (BDA) said it is "deeply concerned” that disruption to public health services will see these numbers increase and acused the Government of "failing to deliver on much-needed reform and investment".
BDA chairman, Eddie Crouch, said: "Tooth decay is still going unchallenged as the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children.
"Decay and deprivation are going hand in hand, and this inequality is set to widen.
"None of this is inevitable. This Government needs to be willing to take off the gloves when it comes to fighting a wholly preventable disease."
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Good oral health is incredibly important and the number of children seen by NHS dentists has increased by 44% in the last year.
"Likewise in hospitals, we have seen an increase in hospital operations for tooth extraction for those aged under the age of 19 as oral healthcare services continue to recover from the pandemic.”
They added: "The number of dentists increased by over 500 last year and the Government is investing more than £3bn in NHS dentistry so people can access services when they need them."