When it comes to oral health in the UK, the latest data indicates that tooth extraction is particularly prevalent in youngsters. This could be referred to as a “tooth decay epidemic,” at least according to the 2018 NHS spending data. The survey states that nearly 43,000 hospital procedures involving the extraction of multiple teeth from patients not older than eighteen years of age have been carried out in 2016 and 2017 alone. The cost? Over 36 million pounds.
In terms of percentage, the jump in the number of extractions performed on young patients has increased by about 17% over the previous four years.
But why does this happen? The reason is as simple as it is severe: the excessive sugar intake by children and teenagers significantly increases tooth decay.
Mick Armstrong, chairman of the British Dental Association, expressed his concern: “these statistics are a badge of dishonor for health ministers, who have failed to confront a wholly preventable disease. Tooth decay is the number one reason for child hospital admissions, but communities across England have been left hamstrung without resources or leadership. This short-sightedness means just a few thousand children stand to benefit from policies that need to be reaching millions."
The Local Government Association also analyzed the data and addressed the matter. According to Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the LGA's community wellbeing board, "these figures, which have risen sharply, show that we have an oral health crisis and highlight the damage that excessive sugar intake is doing to young people's teeth. The fact that, due to the severity of the decay, 170 operations a day to remove teeth in children and teenagers have to be done in a hospital is alarming and also adds to current pressures on the NHS. This concerning trend shows there is an urgent need to introduce measures to curb our sugar addiction which is causing children's teeth to rot."
Oral prevention is essential since birth, even before the first teeth emerge. Only a careful, methodical and constant examination of the mouth along with efficient oral hygiene can actively prevent such an avertable condition like tooth decay in youngsters. Limiting the intake of sugary foods and drinks also contributes to a better overall health. The reduced consumption of unhealthy foods should be a priority for anyone, and not only because it helps in countering the spiraling cases of tooth decay in children and adolescents.