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The Dental Studio advises children to eat sugary foods in moderation

Children and teenagers underwent almost 43,000 “completely preventable” operations to remove rotting teeth last year, costing the NHS more than £36m, according to new figures.

An NHS England spokesman said eating sugary food and drinks was “driving this unfortunate and unnecessary epidemic”, with the figures released just a week after.

At The Dental Studio, we pride ourselves on providing the best treatment for our patients, as having a tooth extraction especially for a child can be a daunting prospect. We treat many children who need to have their teeth taken out due to sugar consumption.

Public Health England has called for children to be limited to just two snacks of no more than 100 calories per day, having found that they currently eat almost 400 biscuits per year – plus hundreds of other sugary snacks.

Martina Hodgson, Principal Dentist at The Dental Studio comments ‘’It is a national disgrace that in this day and age the number one reason children have a general anaesthetic is due to a completely preventable disease – tooth decay, caused by increased sugar consumption.

Martina continues ‘’I understand that not all children have access to a dentist and that in itself is unbelievable. I don’t know what the answer is but the system is not serving our patients right now.”

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, said further action was needed to tackle the amount of sugar being consumed, such as reducing the amount in soft drinks, introducing teaspoon labelling on food packaging, and councils getting a say on where the revenue from the soft drinks levy is spent when it is introduced in April.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “These figures, which have risen sharply, show that we have an oral health crisis and highlight the damage that excessive sugar intake is doing to young people’s teeth.

“The fact that, due to the severity of the decay, 170 operations a day to remove teeth in children and teenagers have to be done in a hospital is alarming and also adds to current pressures on the NHS.

Martina continues to comment ‘’ It is not cruel to give your kids water (as one patient once told me!). It is cruel to continuously give them juice/pop (and yes no added sugar drinks still rot their teeth, and yes even if you dilute it, it will still rot them). Sugar consumption leads to needless pain and surgery that is not without its risks.

We all love a bit of fizzy pop and sweets now and again and that is fine but as with everything, moderation is the key.’’

Cllr Seccombe states that “This concerning trend shows there is an urgent need to introduce measures to curb our sugar addiction which is causing children’s teeth to rot. Untreated dental caries remains one of the most prevalent diseases affecting children and young people’s ability to speak, eat, play and socialise. These figures also highlight how regular check-ups at a dentist can help prevent tooth decay and the need for hospital treatment.”

Health ministers have been accused of failing to confront the “wholly preventable disease” of tooth decay by the British Dental Association, with chairman Mick Armstrong describing the LGA’s figures as a “badge of dishonour” for them.

Tooth decay is the number one reason for child hospital and dental admissions, but communities across England have been left hamstrung without resources or leadership,” he continued. “This short-sightedness means just a few thousand children stand to benefit from policies that need to be reaching millions.”

Unlike Wales and Scotland, England does have a dedicated national child oral health programme, although NHS England has developed the Starting Well campaign, which is aimed at helping under-fives in “high-need communities” see their dentist and improve their oral health. For more information on cutting down sugar in your diet, click here.

At The Dental Studio, we recommend that you clean your kids teeth twice a day and limit the amount of sugary drinks and snacks they consume to avoid tooth decay. We provide Denplan for Children to have regular checkups as their dental health is very important along with many other benefits.

If you have any questions about your children’s dental or would like to book them in for a dental health check, please contact us on 01924 822097.