Nine out of 10 child hospital tooth extractions preventable, data suggests
06/03/2019 - 01:00
Almost nine out of ten hospital tooth extractions among children aged 0 to 5 are due to preventable tooth decay, according to data from Public Health England (PHE).

Tooth decay, which could be prevented by cutting down on sugar and practicing good oral hygiene, can  cause problems with eating and sleeping,and results in at least 60,000 days being missed from school during the year for hospital extractions alone.

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.”

Although the oral health of children is improving, ‘significant inequalities’ remain and tooth extraction is still the most common hospital procedure in 6 to 10 year olds.

While children’s sugar intakes have declined slightly in recent years, they are still consuming the equivalent of around 8 sugar cubes more than the recommended daily limit – often eating 11 grams just at breakfast.

Consuming too much sugar can also lead to an increased risk of obesity and illnesses such as type-2 diabetes.

Jade Morris, public health nutritionist and health promotion coordinator at Healthbox CIC, said: "Sugar is a huge issue for schools and public health. Children are often unaware of just how much sugar they are consuming and the fact they are significantly over their recommended sugar limit.

“Education and encouraging healthier sugar swap messages is key to raising awareness about this issue and helping children reduce their sugar intake at school and at home."

Change4Life is encouraging parents to ‘Make a swap when you next shop’ and switch to lower sugar alternatives to help reduce their children’s sugar intake from some everyday products, such as sugary drinks, yogurts and breakfast cereals.

PHE’s Change4Life campaign, which is encouraging parents to ‘Make a swap when you next shop’ and switch to lower sugar alternatives,  says that this can be done by:

  • Swap sugary drinks and snacks such as split-pot yoghurts for lower or no sugar alternatives, including lower-sugar yoghurts or no-added sugar juice drinks. The Change4Life website has plenty of easy ‘sugar swaps’ and helpful tips for families.
  • Limit fruit juice and smoothies to a total of 150ml per day and only consume with meals – they count as a maximum of one portion of our 5 A Day.
  • Ensure children brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste (once before bedtime and once during the day) and remind them to ‘spit not rinse’, as rinsing washes away the protective fluoride. Brushing should start as soon as the first tooth appears.