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Rotten teeth in toddlers hits crisis point as dentists call for cigarette-style warnings on sweets and fizzy drinks

child being checked for a tooth decay
  • Surgeons warn thousands of children need dental operations each year
  • Some are having to wait in pain for over a year for treatment for decay
  • More than 46,000 admitted to hospital each year, 26,000 under nine
  • Top medic says fizzy drinks should carry health warnings for parents

Britain is in the grip of a ‘national crisis’ in child tooth decay, with fizzy drinks and sweets leading thousands to need dental operations each year, a senior surgeon has warned. Professor Nigel Hunt, of the Royal College of Surgeons, has called for sugary foods and drinks to carry cigarette-style warning pictures to highlight the risk of rotting children’s teeth.

Figures show 46,500 children are now being admitted to hospital each year to have teeth removed, with 26,000 of those are aged under nine. Some 46,500 children are admitted to hospital each year to have teeth removed. File photo

Professor Hunt, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons said services ‘just can’t cope’ with the ‘frightening’ problem. He added: ‘It is unacceptable that one-third of five-year-olds suffer from tooth decay in England. With the number of children being admitted to hospital for tooth extractions rising, we cannot afford to wait.

‘We need to prevent children from reaching the stage where they need to undergo general anaesthetic in a hospital setting in the first place. ‘We want to see a clear government strategy that raises awareness of the importance of simple measures such as reducing sugar consumption or visiting a dentist and drives up standards in oral health nationally.’

Hospitals are running extra operations at evenings and weekends to deal with the 46,500 children admitted each year to have teeth removed under general anaesthetic after they are decayed by sugar. Mr Hunt called for fizzy drinks and sweets to be labelled with stark warnings as is the case with tobacco products.

Professor Nigel Hunt, of the Royal College of Surgeons (right), wants cigarette-style warnings on fizzy drinks The Department of Health has insisted children’s teeth are healthier than they were 10 years ago, but admitted the situation still needs to improve.

A spokesman said: ”We are radically changing NHS dentistry, so that dentists will be paid for keeping the nations’ teeth healthy, rather than just for treating problems as they arise. ‘NHS dentistry is free for children and we strongly recommend parents take children for regular check-ups.’


hospital dental

Last month it emerged that a four-year-old girl had to have sixteen teeth taken out because they were so badly decayed.
Shocked doctors discovered serious decay in all but four of her twenty baby teeth, a council case study revealed. Her mother had only taken her daughter to the dentist for the first time after she noticed the girl was having difficulty eating and had become quiet and withdrawn. She said it could often take her hours to eat her breakfast.

A girl aged just four needed 16 teeth removed at Bristol Dental Hospital (pictured) because of decay The woman, who has not been named, told staff at Charlotte Keel Centre in Easton Bristol that she was aware her daughter’s teeth were in a bad state.

She admitted that one of the potential causes for the decay was that she had regularly allowed her daughter to drink milk from a bottle day and night until she was three.

The girl was referred to Bristol Dental Hospital for extraction of all the decayed teeth under general anesthetic, according to the anonymous case study in a council report.It is likely she will she will struggle to eat after the operation but it will be another eight years before she finally has all her adult teeth through.

Copyright © Associated Newspapers Ltd

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