High levels of children admitted to South Yorkshire hospitals with tooth decay

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Boys aged between five and nine are being admitted to hospital because of problems with their teeth more than any other age group, figures show.

Statistics released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) also show wide regional disparities for children in England, with the South Yorkshire region having more than nine times the rate of hospital admissions for dentistry among under 15s compared with Leicestershire and Lincolnshire, which had the lowest overall.

While the largest proportion of dentistry-related admissions to hospital were among boys aged five to nine -16 per cent - females between the ages of 25 and 29 were the second biggest group at 13 per cent.

Across all age groups, the figures show far more people are going to hospital for teeth or gum problems in the most deprived areas of the country, with more than a quarter - 28 per cent - coming from the 20 per cent most deprived areas nationally.

This is even more pronounced for under 15s, with 35 per cent of admissions coming from the 20 per cent most deprived areas.

The HSCIC pointed to research that found that sugar-laden fizzy or energy drinks are being consumed four or more times a day by 16 per cent of 12-year-olds and 14 per cent of 15-year-olds, particularly in children eligible for free school meals.

The most common reason for being admitted to hospital was due to tooth decay and cavities, accounting for nearly half of hospital admissions.

The overall figure for admissions has remained relatively stable over the past five years, the figures show.

Professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “Today’s data is a stark reminder of the inequalities in children’s oral health that persist across the country.

“Hospital treatment is often required for dental problems that are more serious and complex. We strongly urge the Government to invest in further research to understand the variation.

“A national public health programme is urgently needed to tackle preventable tooth decay.”

Serbjit Kaur, acting Chief Dental Officer at NHS England, said: “Accident and emergency attendances for dental treatments have decreased by 16 per cent since 2011.

“Whilst the most common dental admissions to hospital are for the surgical removal of teeth resulting from cavities and decay, these admissions along with the reasons for dental appointment will vary from region to region.

“Our long-term approach is to continue to raise awareness about oral health care across England and increase the number of patients that are seen by NHS dentists thereby reducing any accident and emergency attendances, outside of unforeseen circumstances.”