Is the government doing enough? 16-01-2018

In today’s article we consider the recent concerns, raised by dentists across England, regarding the level of funding and support from the government in reducing rates of tooth extractions in children and young people. The BBC have recently reported on the alarm triggered by the revelation of statistics concerning the number of children who have needed to have a tooth removed due to decay.

In the year 2012-2013, a staggering 36,833 under-18s were admitted to hospital for a tooth extraction. Whilst this figure was incredibly high, the situation has worsened year on year, and in the year 2016-2017, this figure rose to 42,911. This figure only includes extractions that took place in hospital under general anaesthetic: dentists also carry out extractions in their dental surgeries as well. The cost of the hospital extractions last year was estimated to be in the region of £36 million. Whilst many of these extractions were carried out on children aged between five and nine years of age, dentists raised concerns that increasingly young patients were now experiencing such severe tooth decay that extractions were needed.

The rise in consumption of sugary foods and drinks is often described as a leading cause for the increase in tooth decay, and subsequent fillings and extractions. With so many sweet snacks to choose from, it seems hard for our young population to resist the temptations of sugary treats. Consuming this sugar is directly linked to tooth decay, and is said to be driving up the rates, and severity of treatment needed.

These figures and concerns have recently been in the news as some feel that there is more the government could be doing to reduce the number of extractions that take place. Dentists commenting in the BBC report described how, despite stating that they were ‘determined’ to reduce the number of tooth extractions in children and young people, the government have not taken enough action. For example, their lead policy on the matter, ‘Starting Well’ has not received any new or additional funding. Without financial support, this programme is limited in the steps it can take to continue to work to reduce tooth decay.

In response to the concerns raised, the government is said to have highlighted the new sugar tax, which will come into force from April. This tax will see the cost of the most sugary drinks rise, in a bid to make them less attractive to consumers. Furthermore, others have highlighted the importance of parents taking a leading role in limiting and reducing the sugary foods and drinks their children consume.

On 18th January the issue of children’s dental care and treatment will be debated in the House of Lords.

To read the full BBC article, please visit their website. You can also contact us today, on 01993 842534, if you care concerned about managing the oral health of your child.