DOZENS of children in Halton have had to go to hospital to have teeth removed as experts continued to warn of a worrying backlog in dental cases.
Statistics released by the government showed 40 children aged under 11 in the borough were admitted to hospital for tooth extractions last year. There were a further 20 aged between 11 and 19 admitted. Tooth extractions delivered under general anaesthetic have been the number one cause of hospitalisation for children for a generation, according to the British Dental Association.
Around 2,000 dentists quit the NHS last year, around 10 per cent of all dentists employed in England. An estimated four million people can not access NHS care and with some parts of the country now described as ‘dentistry deserts’, because remaining NHS dentists are not taking on new patients.
A spokesman for the British Dental Association trade union said children from the poorest areas are three times more likely to have extractions than those from the most affluent communities. Oral health inequality is expected to grow owing to the scale of backlogs in primary care, which limit the chance to catch problems early. They said more than 12.5 million NHS dental appointments for children have been lost in England since lockdown.
Charlotte Waite, chair of the British Dental Association’s England Community Dental Services Committee added: “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.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care, said: “The NHS commits around £3 billion to dentistry each year, and last year we invested an additional £50 million to fund up to 350,000 extra dental appointments and bust the Covid backlogs.
“We are working closely with the NHS to reform the dental system and are negotiating improvements to the contract to increase access for patients and ensure working in the NHS remains attractive to dentists.”