Ba­bies have rot­ten teeth pulled be­fore their 1st birth­day

Daily Mail - - News - By Ben Spencer Med­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent

GROW­ING num­bers of un­der­fives are hav­ing rot­ten teeth re­moved, a shock­ing re­port re­veals to­day.

Hospi­tal ex­trac­tions for preschool chil­dren have surged 24 per cent in just ten years.

Even ba­bies are hav­ing newly-grown milk teeth taken out.

Sug­ary food and drink are to blame – chil­dren typ­i­cally con­sume two to three times the rec­om­mended limit.

But den­tists said tooth­paste also played a role be­cause some chil­dren’s brands had too lit­tle flu­o­ride.

The Royal Col­lege of Sur­geons re­port says ex­trac­tions among un­der-fives in Eng­land rose from 7,444 in 2006/7 to 9,206 in 2015/16.

Last year, 47 in­fants un­der the age of one had teeth re­moved.

‘When you see the num­bers tal­lied up like this it be­comes abun­dantly clear that the sweet habits of our chil­dren are hav­ing a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect,’ said Pro­fes­sor Nigel Hunt of the RCS Fac­ulty of Den­tal Surgery. ‘That chil­dren as young as one or two need to have teeth ex­tracted is shock­ing. It’s al­most cer­tain that the ma­jor­ity of th­ese ex­trac­tions will be down to tooth de­cay caused by too much sugar.

‘Re­moval of teeth, es­pe­cially in hospi­tal un­der gen­eral anaes­thetic, is not to be taken lightly. There tends to be an at­ti­tude of “Oh, they are only baby teeth” but how teeth are looked af­ter in child­hood im­pacts oral health in adult­hood. Baby teeth set the pat­tern for adult teeth, in­clud­ing tooth de­cay.’

Claire Stevens, a con­sul­tant in pae­di­atrics in Manch­ester, has in some cases had to re­move ev­ery tooth in a child’s mouth. ‘The main cul­prits are bot­tle-feed­ing through the night and bot­tle-feed­ing af­ter the age of one,’ she said. Par­ents are ad­vised never to put any­thing other than milk or wa­ter in a baby’s bot­tle, and to stop all bot­tle use at 12 months.

‘ The ad­vice is to start work­ing to­ward not hav­ing any food or drink within an hour of bed,’ Mrs Stevens, a sur­geon, said, ‘al­though that is not al­ways very easy.’

Mrs Stevens added: ‘I would ad­vise par­ents to just use a nor­mal adult’s tooth­paste for their chil­dren. There should be far more clar­ity on how tooth­paste is mar­keted and la­belled.’

The 24 per cent in­crease is set against a 16 per cent rise in the pop­u­la­tion of chil­dren aged four and un­der over the same pe­riod.

The data, gath­ered through free­dom of in­for­ma­tion re­quests, also showed that tooth ex­trac­tions to chil­dren aged nine and un­der have reached more than 34,000 per year for the last two years.

Of­fi­cial fig­ures show un­der-tens con­sume an av­er­age of 14 tea­spoons of sugar a day – 53.5g. The Gov­ern­ment ad­vises no more than five to six tea­spoons.

Mick Arm­strong of the Bri­tish Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion said: ‘An en­tirely pre­ventable dis­ease is go­ing al­most un­chal­lenged as the lead­ing cause of hospi­tal ad­mis­sions among young chil­dren.

‘Th­ese ex­trac­tions are plac­ing a huge strain on the NHS, and while gov­ern­ments in Wales and Scot­land have set out ded­i­cated strate­gies, min­is­ters in Eng­land have of­fered lit­tle more than a col­lec­tive shrug.

‘It’s a na­tional scan­dal that a child born in Black­burn is now seven times more likely to ex­pe­ri­ence de­cay than one born in the Health Sec­re­tary’s Sur­rey con­stituency.

‘Th­ese deep in­equal­i­ties now re­quire real com­mit­ment from gov­ern­ment, not just to­ken ef­forts.’

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