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Tooth extractions increase

20th August 2009

New figures from the NHS Information Centre have confirmed a dramatic rise in the number of tooth extractions carried out on children under 18.

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In the last five years, they have risen by 12%, with a million child teeth extracted every year.

A growing number of children are also ending up in hospital under general anaesthetic because of problems with their teeth.

The latest statistics are the first to compare clinical activity before and after the changes to NHS dentistry.

They also reveal two million adult teeth were pulled out in 2008/09, up 220,000 on 2003/04.

Bad diets, poor dental hygiene and shortages in dental care are blamed.

However, more difficult procedures such as crowns, bridges and root canal work, fell by nearly 50% between 2004 and 2009 to 750,000.

Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Nigel Carter, said: “The worrying end is more extractions and an indication that rather than root filling teeth, they may be getting extracted instead for the same contractual rewards.

"While under the old contract there was definitely some over-treatment, we may be going towards more under-treatment than is desirable and failing to address these areas of more complex needs.”

However, Chief Dental Officer Barry Cockcroft said the decline in complex treatments was evidence that the new system was freeing up time that dentists can use to deliver more preventative care.

Conservative health spokesman Mike Penning felt that the fall in complex treatments represented a failure for the profession, for patients, and for the wider NHS.

 

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