The NHS Spent Nearly £40M Last Year Removing Kids’ Rotten Teeth
Recently released figures have shown that over 45,000 operations to remove kids and teenagers' teeth were made last year, costing the NHS a whopping £38.9 million.
The Local Government Association said the figures - which reflect extractions carried out on under-18s across England in between 2017 and 2018 - demonstrate a widespread issue regarding poor oral hygiene and excessive consumption of sugary food and drinks.
Despite a rise in the price of fizzy drinks as the UK's sugar tax came into effect this year, the startling figures have sparked calls for action against the consumption of the sweet stuff.
After all, youngsters in the UK are the biggest buyers of soft drinks in Europe, with two out of five 11 to 15-year-olds drinking sugary drinks at least once a day.
The Metro reports that over the last six years, the total number of operations has jumped from 38,208 extractions made in 2012/2013, costing the NHS roughly £205 million from then until now.
With such a huge hindrance on the UK's health budget and the population's health, councils are now urging the government to reverse budget restrictions in a bid to introduce stricter guidelines and practices to tackle sugar addiction.
One of the proposals is to reverse £600m in reductions to public health grants used to fund oral health programmes and campaigns to tackle childhood obesity.
Speaking about the statistics, Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA's community wellbeing board, said: "These figures, which have risen sharply, highlight the damage that excessive sugar intake is doing to young people's teeth.
"The fact that, due to the severity of the decay, 180 operations a day to remove multiple teeth in children and teenagers have to be done in a hospital is concerning and also adds to current pressures on the NHS.
"This trend shows there is a vital need to introduce measures to curb our sugar addiction which is causing children's teeth to rot.
"There must be a reinvestment in innovative oral health education so that parents and children understand the impact of sugar on teeth and the importance of a good oral hygiene regime.
"Untreated dental care remains one of the most prevalent diseases affecting children and young people's ability to speak, eat, play and socialise."
In April of this year the Government introduced the sugar tax, which hiked up the price of sweeter drinks by 18p or 24p per litre, depending on how much extra sugar has been added.
However, many argue the initiative is not enough and more resources need to be put in place. British Dental Association (BDA) chairman Mick Armstrong stated: "Tooth decay remains the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children, but ministers have not put a penny of new investment into early years prevention.
"In the NHS's 70th year, ministers need to offer more than unfunded gimmicks. We require a dedicated and properly resourced national effort to end the scandal of childhood decay."
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