According to a senior dentist at the Royal College of Surgeons, Britain is in the grip of a ‘national crisis’ with the level of tooth decay in children rising rapidly; figures revealed that 46,500 children were admitted to hospital in the last year to have teeth removed, with 26,000 of those under the age of nine. Professor Nigel Hunt, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery, is calling for sugary foods and fizzy drinks to have warnings on the labels, similar to those used on cigarette packets to warn of the dangers of smoking.
Professor Hunt said that the dental services were struggling to cope with the influx of patients requiring tooth extractions; he added that the situation is ‘unacceptable’ and said that this is not something that can go ignored for much longer. He went on to say that ‘we need to prevent children from reaching the stage where they need to undergo general anaesthetic in a hospital setting in the first place. We want to see a clear government strategy that raises awareness of the importance of simple measures such as reducing sugar consumption or visiting a dentist and drives up standards of oral health nationally.’ He also called for sweets and sugary drinks to be labelled with warnings to help parents make healthier choices for their children.
The Department of Health released a statement saying ‘We are radically changing NHS dentistry, so that dentists will be paid for keeping the nations’ teeth healthy, rather than just for treating problems as they arise. NHS dentistry is free for children and we strongly recommend parents take children for regular check-ups.’