20,000 children with rotten teeth missed out on agony-relieving op during Covid


20,000 children with rotten teeth missed out on agony-relieving op during Covid as number of extractions HALVED in first year of pandemic, dentists warn

  • Just 14,615 under-19s in England had teeth removed in first year of the pandemic
  • Figure is down 20,000 in a year, leaving youngsters waiting for treatment in pain
  • Dentists have called for details of backlog and extra cash to tackle it 

Thousands children missed out on getting their rotten teeth removed because of Covid, data suggests.

Tooth extractions in youngsters halved during the first year of the pandemic, with just 14,645 carried out in 2020/21. 

This was roughly 20,000 fewer than the year before. 

Dentists today warned the children who didn’t get the procedure would have been left in pain.

The British Dental Association said the ‘collapse’ of the service does not ‘reflect any change in the demand’ for the operations, which take place in NHS hospitals under general anaesthetic.

They have called for ‘full disclosure’ on how many youngsters are waiting for tooth extraction now, as well as a ‘properly funded plan’ to address the backlog.

The graph shows the number of tooth extractions performed on under-19s in England per year, split by how many were due to tooth decay (dark blue bars) or for other reasons (light blue bars). The figures show just 14,615 teeth were removed in the first year of the pandemic, down 20,575 (58.5 per cent) from 35,190 one year earlier

Britons should brush their teeth more on holiday, dentists warn 

All-inclusive holidays encourage cavity-causing diets, dentists warn as they urge Britons to brush their teeth more when soaking up the sun.

The packages, which let holiday-makers eat and drink as much as they want, have soared in popularity.

Dr Khaled Kasem, chief orthodontist at Impress, said a buffet breakfast could be damaging your teeth. 

He said a fried breakfast followed by a pastry exposes teeth to lots of sugar that ‘forms into a paste that sticks to the crevices between teeth’. 

‘You’re hit with a losing combination that can cause cavities,’ he said.

Dr Kasem urged Britons to brush their teeth for three minutes up to three times a day.

Figures from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) show there were 22,459 tooth extractions among under-19s in the year to March 2021.

Some 14,645 of these procedures — around two-thirds — were due to tooth decay.

The figure is 20,575 fewer (down 56.4 per cent) from the 35,190 procedures performed due to tooth decay in the year to March 2020.

This is despite a 0.4 per cent increase in the number of children in the population, health chiefs said. 

Health chiefs estimate tooth extractions — the top cause of young children being admitted to hospital for over a decade — costs the NHS £21.8million per year, with decay-related removal alone costing £13.8million. 

The OHID admitted the decline in tooth extractions is ‘likely due to the continued impact of the Covid outbreak on non-Covid related hospital episodes, rather than sudden reduction in need or demand’.

Over 12.5million NHS dental appointments for children have been lost in England since lockdown. 

The OHID data shows there were treatment disparities across the country, with the North East seeing 285 tooth extractions per 100,000 under-19s, compared to just 72 per 100,000 in the West Midlands.

And tooth extractions among youngsters living in the poorest communities was three times higher compared to those living in richest areas. 

The BDA warned oral health inequality is set to grow due to the scale of backlogs in primary care, ‘which limit the chance to catch problems early’. 

Charlotte Waite, chair of the BDA’s England community dental services committee, said: ‘Tooth extractions among children have collapsed, but the level of demand hasn’t gone anywhere. 

‘Covid has simply left tens of thousands in pain, potentially waiting years for treatment they desperately need.

‘Government has yet to offer real clarity on the scale of the backlog, or a credible plan to tackle it.’

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