Doncaster named worst place in country for child tooth decay
Doncaster has been named the UK capital of child tooth decay – with more youngsters having teeth removed here than anywhere else in the country.
New figures reveal that the town has England's highest rates of extractions, with more than five times the national average of six to 10-year-olds undergoing the procedure.
The statistics showed that South Yorkshire is one of the worst places in England for tooth decay – with Rotherham and Sheffield also featuring among the worst towns.
And almost nine out of 10 tooth extractions in hospital for very young children are for rotting teeth, figures show.
Children aged five and under accounted for 14,545 tooth extractions in 2017/18 in England, with most of those - 12,783 - being for tooth decay.
Older children were also affected. Among all children aged up to the age of 19, some 38,385 procedures were carried out to remove decaying teeth, although this was down slightly on the 39,010 the year before.
Nevertheless, around 105 children per day have their teeth removed in hospital because of tooth decay that is preventable.
Public Health England (PHE) is urging parents to watch their children's sugar intake.
It said most youngsters having around eight cubes of sugar more per day than the recommended limit of five cubes.
The British Dental Association (BDA), which also looked at the NHS data, said it showed that children in parts of Yorkshire and the North West are up to five times more likely to undergo hospital extractions than the national average.
The worst affected areas included Rotherham, Sheffield, Preston and Blackpool.
The BDA said the official figures are likely understate the true scale of the problem owing to data gaps and coding inconsistencies.
BDA 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.
"While Wales and Scotland have national programmes making real inroads, in England ministers are yet to commit a penny of new money to the challenge.
"This poverty of ambition is costing our NHS millions, even though tried-and-tested policies would pay for themselves.
"The Government's own figures show a pound spent on prevention can yield over three back in savings on treatment."
PHE says tooth decay can be largely prevented by reducing sugar consumption, using fluoride toothpastes and routine visits to the dentist.
It also supports water fluoridation. Around 5.8 million people in England currently receive fluoridated water.
PHE, which runs the Change4Life health campaign, said parents should 'make a swap when you next shop' and switch to lower sugar alternatives for things such as sugary drinks, yoghurts and breakfast cereals.
Fruit juice and smoothies- which count as one portion of the recommended five a day - should be limited to 150ml per day and should only be consumed with meals.
Dr Sandra White, dental lead for PHE, said: "Children are consuming far too much sugar each day, and this can have a very serious impact on their oral health.
"Parents can help reduce their children's sugar intake by making simple swaps when shopping and making sure their children's teeth are brushed twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
"Small, consistent changes like these can have the biggest impact on children's teeth."
Tooth extraction is the most common hospital procedure among six to 10-year-olds in England.
PHE said at least 60,000 days of school are missed due to tooth extractions in hospitals.
Professor Michael Escudier, from the Royal College of Surgeons, said: "The figures published today by Public Health England are horrifying.
"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% avoidable."
Dr Max Davie, officer for health improvement at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "Despite being highly preventable, tooth decay remains a significant public health issue, particularly in deprived areas where children are three times more likely to experience severe tooth decay due to higher sugar diets and poorer oral hygiene.
"We know that poor dental health can have a major impact on a child's physical health and quality of life, and lead to problems such as infections, eating difficulties, and absences from school.
"Reducing the amount of sugar consumed by children, particularly in fizzy drinks, is vital, as well as the provision of ongoing, regular, and easily accessible dental care."