Child tooth extractions have risen by 17%, figures show

The number of children attending hospital for tooth extractions has risen by 17%, government figures show.

The number of children attending hospital for an extraction due to tooth decay has risen by 17%, government figures show.

This comes as the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) revealed that 47,581 people aged 0-19 had a tooth extracted in hospital in 2022-2023.

This amounts to around 119 extractions a day in a five-day working week. Of these, some 66% were due to tooth decay.

In addition, these extractions cost the NHS around £40.7 million a year.

The data also showed that tooth decay is the most common reason for hospital admission for five- to nine-year-olds.

You can read the full government findings here.

This follows the NHS dental recovery plan announced by the government last week, with measures to tackle the current NHS dental crisis. The government has said that the plan could see the plan could see 2.5 million additional NHS dental appointments patients over the next 12 months, as well as up to 1.5 million more treatments delivered.

The plan includes:

  • NHS dentists will be given a ‘new patient’ payment of between £15 to £50 (depending on treatment need) to treat around a million new patients who have not seen an NHS dentist in two years or more
  • Around 240 dentists will be offered one-off payments of up to £20,000 for working in under-served areas for up to three years
  • A new ‘Smile for Life’ initiative, offering advice to parents and parents-to-be on the right care for baby gums and milk teeth
  • The minimum value of NHS activity increasing to £28 (from £23)
  • ‘Dental vans’ sent to rural areas to help reach the most isolated communities
  • A water fluoridation programme to be rolled out by government (subject to consultation).

‘Burning issue’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:Access to dental services is improving, and last year around 800,000 more children saw an NHS dentist. Our new dental recovery plan sets out how we will make access to dentistry faster, simpler and fairer.

‘The plan – backed by £200 million of government funding – will create an additional 2.5 million dental appointments for patients over the next 12 months.

‘We will also drive a major new focus on prevention and good oral health in young children. This includes the Smile for Life programme – providing advice to parents and parents-to-be to promote good practices in their children – and providing fluoride varnish for children in schools in under-served areas to reduce tooth decay.’

However, the recovery plan has been met with criticism across the profession. Shawn Charlwood, chair of the British Dental Association’s General Dental Practice Committee, said: ‘This “recovery plan” is not worthy of the title. It won’t halt the exodus from the workforce or offer hope to millions struggling to access care. Nothing here meets government’s stated ambitions, or makes this service fit for the future.

‘Ministers wanted to stop dentistry becoming an election issue. By rearranging the deckchairs they’ve achieved the exact opposite. The crisis will remain a burning issue in communities across this country until we get real change.’

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