Children’s taste for sugary drinks is contributing to the £140 million bill for removing their rotten teeth over the last five years.
Councils are stepping up demands for tough action against sugar laden drinks as part of the government’s obesity strategy as it emerged that the cost of taking out decaying children’s teeth in hospitals has risen by 66% over the last five years.
A dinosaur, an award scheme and a dental pack are some of the weapons commissioners are using to fight back against tooth decay.
In 2014-15 there were 40,970 multiple extractions of children’s teeth in hospitals, which cost the NHS £35 million.
The Local Government Association (LGA) believes that sugary drinks play a huge role in the increase from 32,457 multiple tooth extractions in 2011, which cost £21 million.
The operations are carried out in hospital rater than at the dentist because of the severity of their tooth decay.
Councils have commissioned a range of measures to help stop the rot.
Hammersmith and Fulham in west London recruited a dinosaur to help encourage children and their parents care for their gnashers.
His dental adventures were recounted in Heather Maisner’s book “Dinosaur Douglas and the Beastly Bugs”.
In Suffolk the county council commissioned a five-year oral health improvement scheme.
Patents are given an oral health pack complete with a child’s toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste and a leaflet about dental health at every baby’s health check at eight or nine months of age.
Buckinghamshire county council runs a Smile Award Plus programme at nurseries and children’s centres.
It encourages centres with a “tooth friendly” policy which ditch sugary snacks and offer water and milk instead of sugary and acidic drinks.
Children in the UK drink more sugary drinks than youngsters elsewhere in Europe, said the LGA.
Forty per cent of 11 to 15-year-olds have at least one sugary drink or can of pop a day, compared with 27% in Poland and 18% in Germany in third place, said the LGA.
The LGA’s community wellbeing spokeswoman Izzi Seccombe said: “Poor oral health can affect children and young people’s ability to sleep, eat, speak, play and socialise with others. Having good oral health can help children learn at school, and improve their ability to thrive and develop, not least because it will prevent school absence.”