There were hundreds of hospital admissions in Bolton to remove children’s decaying teeth last year, new figures show.

Figures from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities show there were an estimated 375 total hospital admissions in Bolton for children's tooth extraction in the year to March 2023.

Of these, about 305 were extractions for tooth decay.

The numbers are rounded to the nearest five.

Overall, the rate of tooth extractions in Bolton was 473 per 100,000 children – above the national rate of 360 per 100,000.

In Bolton, about 23.3 per cent of 10 to 11 year olds had experienced tooth decay.

Tyrone Roberts, chief nursing officer at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It’s really important that families and children practice good oral health and hygiene as early as possible.

“Our oral health team work across communities and with groups to promote tooth brushing and support parents to make healthy choices for their children.

“We recommend that children brush their teeth twice a day without rinsing and reduce the amount of sugary food and drinks they consume.

“People can find their nearest dentist on the website by entering their local postcode.”

Synergy CEO Dr Zubair Bagasi, who has dental practices across Bolton and other parts of Greater Manchester, said: “Children used to go to A&E and then later on it was general admission where numbers increased, so it wasn’t the brightest thing to do because we should be treating it before it gets to that, but we are beyond that problem for many.

“Where we need to be, is both [A&E and general admission] need to go down and patients need to be seen before we get to this.

“There have been some schemes in Bolton to encourage NHS dentists to take on families with kids and those schemes have worked.

“What we have done is launch our own plan so when patients register then kids are registered for free, so they get looked after.

“Make sure kids are brushing twice a day and reducing sugar frequency and tried to get them registered by an NHS dentist.

“We will be going to schools how to look after their teeth.”

Cllr Andy Morgan, Conservative spokesman for health and wellbeing in the borough, said: “There are numerous reasons why children in Bolton are attending A&E for emergency teeth extractions. 

“Some children may not always adhere to proper brushing routines. This, along with consumption of sugary foods and drinks, can clearly contribute to dental decay and gum disease.

“Access to dental care for regular dental check-ups and preventive care is a major issue.

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“In many areas there are shortages of dental services, particularly for children. This can result in longer waiting times for appointments and may prompt parents to seek emergency care when dental issues arise.

“In addition, families living through the cost-of-living crisis may struggle to afford dental care or may prioritise other expenses over dental health.

“Addressing these factors requires a multi-agency approach involving education of both children and their parents with regards appropriate oral hygiene routines, improved access to dental services, and efforts to promote healthier dietary habits. 

“Parents are advised to register their children with a dental practice at the earliest opportunity and before a crisis occurs for advice and support.” 

Across NHS hospitals in England, there were 47,581 tooth extractions for patients under 19 years old.

Some 66 per cent of these extractions – or 31,165 – were down to a primary diagnosis of tooth decay, up 17 per cent from the previous 12 months.

Separately, figures from the government's annual Oral Health Survey of year 6 children showed 16.2 per cent had experienced tooth decay, with those impacted experiencing decay in at least two teeth on average.

David Fothergill, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: "These stark figures reveal that a lack of access to affordable dentistry is having a worrying impact on the state of children’s teeth.

"The fact that, due to the severity of the decay, on average 119 operations are taking place each day to remove decaying teeth in children and teenagers is concerning and also adds to current pressures on our health service.

"Untreated dental care remains one of the most prevalent diseases affecting children and young people’s ability to speak, eat, play and socialise."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Access to dentistry is improving, and last year around 800,000 more children saw an NHS dentist.

"We are also taking preventative measures, such as expanding water fluoridation schemes to reduce the number of children experiencing tooth decay.”

They added £3bn is invested each year to deliver NHS dentistry and plans have been announced to increase dental training places by 40 per cent.

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