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Public health experts warn of child tooth decay epidemic

A child in England has a decayed tooth removed in hospital every 10 minutes

Mark Gould

Monday, 09 April 2018

A child in England has a tooth removed in hospital every 10 minutes due to preventable tooth decay, according to new figures published by Public Health England (PHE).

Tooth extraction remains the most common reason for hospital admissions in five to nine-year-olds. PHE figures show around 141 children a day – some just a year old – are having teeth removed. This means around 60,000 days are missed from school during the year, as well as causing problems with eating, sleeping and even smiling.

With the government’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy coming into effect on Friday last week, PHE is using its Change4Life campaign to remind parents that sugary drink, are one of the main sources of sugar in children’s diets.

Commenting on the Levy Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "A tax on sugary drinks is a positive move forward in tackling this obesity epidemic – but also reversing the shocking increasing levels of tooth decay in younger people- and we also warmly welcome commitments by supermarkets to reduce sugar consumption in their own label soft drinks.

"We hope these measures will go some way in encouraging people to cut down on the amount of sugar they are consuming, but a levy on its own will not solve the obesity crisis - it must be part of a broader strategy which targets patients' overall lifestyle changes including diet and exercise."

And PHE's dental lead Dr Sandra White, said it was upsetting to see so many children admitted to hospital with tooth decay, “but swapping out sugary drinks could be an easy win for busy families.”

"Parents can also help prevent decay by making sure their children’s teeth are brushed twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and reducing how much sugar they’re eating and drinking."

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