Local authority leaders have warned of a potential post-coronavirus surge of dental treatments following the lifting of lockdown.
According to the latest NHS spending data, there were 44,685 extractions of multiple teeth in under-18s in England in 2018/19 at a cost of £41.5m.
This is equal to 177 per working day, an increase of 17% compared to the 38,208 extractions in 2012/13, which cost £27.4m.
The vast majority of these extractions are due to tooth decay, a fact which has prompted councils to warn that the oral health of children who have been at home for months during lockdown could be at risk due to an increase in the consumption of sugary food and drink and a lack of supervision by early years settings such as nurseries.
‘These latest figures demonstrate the damage which can be done to young people’s teeth through too much sugar intake,’ said Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board.
‘The fact that, due to the severity of the decay, 177 operations a day to remove multiple teeth in children and teenagers have to be done in a hospital is concerning and also adds to current pressures on the NHS.
‘We need to do all we can to reduce how much sugar our children eat and drink, including investing in oral health education so that everyone understands the impact of sugar on teeth and the importance of a good oral hygiene regime.
‘Untreated dental care remains one of the most prevalent diseases affecting children and young people’s ability to speak, eat, play and socialise.’