Babies have rotten teeth pulled before their 1st birthday
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.’