Sugar blamed for 24% rise in tooth extractions for under-4s

31 March 2017

A record number of children are having their teeth removed and sugary foods are largely to blame.

The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons has found that there has been a 24% rise in the number of tooth extractions performed on children up to four years old in hospitals in England over the last decade (1).

Extractions for children aged up to nine has also jumped from 27,760 to 34,003 between 2006-07 and 2015-16.

"When you see the numbers tallied up like this, it becomes abundantly clear that the sweet habits of our children are having a devastating effect on the state of their teeth," said Professor Nigel Hunt, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons.

"It's shocking that children as young as one or two need to have teeth out.  It's almost certain that the majority of these extractions will be down to tooth decay caused by too much sugar in diets."

The Royal College of Surgeons is using its analysis to push for better education and has identified the government sugar levy as a source for funding.  The Soft Drinks Industry Levy recently announced in 2017's Finance Bill is part of the drive to reduce the amount of sugar in soft drinks.  From April 2018, the soft drink industry will be charged a set amount per litre if they fail to reduce the levels of sugar in their products.

Professor Hunt stated that 90% of tooth decay can be prevented through reducing sugar consumption, regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste and routine dental visits - adding that 42% of children did not see a dentist in 2015-16.

"We'd like to see a significant proportion of the money raised through the government's sugar levy spent on oral health education.  Sugar has an almost immediate damaging impact on teeth and if we teach parents and children to cut down on sweet treats and look after their teeth properly, there will be a positive knock-on effect for childhood obesity rates too."

(1)Royal College of Surgeons. (2017). Shocking 24% increase in tooth extractions.

Source: Unum 

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