Sheffield children have the worst tooth decay in Britain, shock new figures reveal.
A total of 1,140 Sheffield children, from toddlers up to age 10, had decaying teeth removed in city hospitals in 2014/15 – the highest in the UK.
South Yorkshire towns and cities had the three worst figures, with 833 children admitted for tooth removal in Doncaster and 798 in Rotherham, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Sheffield’s director of public health Greg Fell said the figures were a ‘stark reminder’ of the high levels of tooth decay in children, something which was ‘preventable through good oral health and something we take very seriously’.
He said: “We’re working to improve this in Sheffield by providing information and help for parents. This is given in different ways including by health visitors working with families, who give an oral health pack with a toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste and information.
“Schools also give information and we have provided all primary schools with a copy of our Top Teeth DVD, which we created to help with this. Supervised tooth brushing clubs now run in nurseries where there are higher levels of tooth decay.
“The most important thing I’d urge parents to do is brush their children’s twice a day, limit sugary drinks and sugary food and take their children to the dentist regularly from an early age.
“These things really make a difference. More information is available through the new sugar smart campaign which gives easy tips on how to cut down on sugar.”
Across the region 6,413 Yorkshire children were admitted to hospital with decay in 2014/15. The county was behind only London with 8,362 and the North West with 6,672 for the number of children needing hospital admission as an in-patient for tooth decay.
Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group chairman Dr Tim Moorhead said: “It’s really disappointing that Sheffield has the highest number of children admitted to hospital to have decayed teeth removed.
“The children’s health and wellbeing board have identified this as a priority and we are working with the council to try to support families to provide better tooth care for their children, as well as with the city’s dentists, NHS England and the children’s hospital to make sure that young children are only having their teeth removed when this is really the only option and all other possible treatment options have already been explored.”
Chief dental officer at NHS England Sara Hurley said: “In England, children and young people drink more sugary soft drinks than anywhere else in Europe and we are also creating a legacy of obesity and significant health problems. If we are to get serious about tackling this then prevention is the key.”
Dean of the faculty of dental surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons Professor Nigel Hunt said: “The need for tooth extraction continues to be the number one reason why five to nine-year-old children are admitted to hospital.
“The problem is partly one of improving oral health education. The government and dental professionals need to work together to raise awareness of the impact of sugar on tooth decay and improve children’s access to NHS dental services.”
Public Health England’s Change4Life Sugar Smart campaign aims to show clearly how much sugar is in the foods and drinks we consume. People can download an app from www.nhs.co.uk, which they can then use to scan the barcodes on food packaging to reveal in simple terms how much sugar they contain.