More than 100 children a day are having rotting teeth removed in hospital, when nine in ten cases could have been prevented, new figures show.
Children aged five and under accounted for 14,545 tooth extractions in 2017/18 in England, with most of those – 12,783 – as a result of tooth decay.
Among those up to the age of 19, some 38,385 procedures were carried out to remove decaying teeth – around 105 a day, the NHS figures show.
Public Health England (PHE) is urging parents to watch their children’s sugar intake. It said most youngsters having around eight cubes of sugar more per day than the recommended limit of five cubes.
Analysis by the British Dental Association found that children in parts of Yorkshire and the North West are almost five times more likely to undergo hospital extractions than the national average.
The areas with the highest rates of extractions for 0 to 5-year-olds are Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley, Sheffield and Hyndburn.
BDA chairman Mick Armstrong said: “Children’s oral health shouldn’t be a postcode lottery, but these figures show just how wide the oral health gap between rich and poor has become.”
PHE said tooth decay can be largely prevented by reducing sugar consumption, using fluoride toothpastes and routine visits to the dentist.
Dr Sandra White, dental lead for PHE, said: “Children are consuming far too much sugar each day, and this can have a very serious impact on their oral health.
“Parents can help reduce their children’s sugar intake by making simple swaps when shopping and making sure their children’s teeth are brushed twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
“Small, consistent changes like these can have the biggest impact on children’s teeth.”
Tooth extraction is the most common hospital procedure among six to 10-year-olds in England.
PHE said at least 60,000 days of school are missed due to tooth extractions in hospitals.
Professor Michael Escudier, from the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “The figures published today by Public Health England are horrifying.
“Tens of thousands of young children are having to go through the distressing experience of having their teeth removed under general anaesthetic for a problem that is 90 per cent avoidable.”