Too many children have surgery for rotten teeth

Around 100 children and teenagers are being admitted to hospital in Britain for surgery to remove rotten teeth, says report by the Local Government Association.

During 2014-15, the NHS spent £35 million pulling out children’s decaying teeth, which is 66 percent more than it spent in 2010-11, when almost 32.500 children had surgery for rotten teeth compared with almost 41,000 in 2014-15. The culprit, the reports suggest, is the amount of sugar children in this country have in food and drink.

Professor Liz Kay, a dental public health expert at the Peninsula Dental School at Plymouth University, is shocked by the report’s findings. “I find it outrageous that in this country and this day and age so many children are undergoing surgery for a condition which is largely preventable,” she says.

“If that many children were having another body part removed because of something we could prevent, there would quite correctly be a public outcry.”

As well as helping your children to practise good dental hygiene – which means making sure they brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste that’s appropriate for their age group – it’s also a good idea to try and make sure they eat fewer sugary foods throughout the day.

Here are some tips from Peninsula Dental School experts that may help:

  • If your child needs something to eat between meals, try tooth friendly snacks such as cheese, fruit and vegetable sticks (e.g. carrot, cucumber), breadsticks, Marmite or butter on toast, rice cakes, or a bowl of non-sugary cereal with milk and no added sugar or honey.
  • Don’t give them too much dried fruit between meals as it’s high in sugar and can stick to children’s teeth.
  • Never allow sugary foods or drinks just before bed, and make sure the only thing they drink during the night is water.
  • Only have sweets, cakes, fizzy drinks and other treats for pudding or as part of a meal (don’t let your children eat them between meals).

Your Careway pharmacist has everything you need to keep your children’s teeth and gums healthy, including toothpaste and toothbrushes designed for little ones. Also ask your pharmacist about using disclosing tablets, which highlight any areas on your child’s teeth you or they may have missed (disclosing tablets contain a vegetable dye that shows up any plaque that hasn’t been removed during brushing).

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.