Sugary Foods Leave UK Children Facing Tooth Decay ‘Crisis’
“Senior dental surgeon calls for cigarette packet-style health warnings on packaging of sweets and fizzy drinks”
British children face a tooth decay “crisis” with huge numbers needing to have teeth removed under general anaesthetic, according to a senior dental surgeon.
Professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the Royal College of Surgeons’ dental faculty, also called for sugary foods and drinks to carry health warnings like those on cigarette packets to highlight the risk they pose to children’s teeth.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Professor Hunt said: “We are reaching crisis point in terms of the number of children needing to go into the dental hospitals for full-blown general anaesthetics for extraction.
“Almost 26,000 general anaesthetics are being given to five to nine-year-old children every year to have teeth out now.”
According to The Sunday Times report, hospitals are running extra operations at evenings and weekends in order to cope with the 46,500 children admitted each year to have decayed teeth removed under general anaesthetic.
Professor Hunt said that the packaging for sweets and sugar-laden fizzy drinks should carry warning images like those seen on tobacco products.
“In the same way as we have with smoking, that smoking can cause lung cancer and so on, we should be saying high levels of sugar will lead to not only poor oral health and decay but the impact on general health,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the government had commissioned expert advice on the subject, and urged parents to schedule regular check-ups for their children.
“NHS dentistry is free for children and we strongly recommend parents take children for regular check-ups,” he said.
Written by Alexander Sehmer