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The government needs to take urgent action to reduce sugar consumption by way of tackling the rising tide of children being admitted to hospital with rotten teeth, according to a report published last weekend (12 July) by the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons.

It says tooth decay is the most common cause of hospital admissions amongst five to nine year old children, with 26,500 admitted to hospital between 2014-2015, a rise of almost 1,000 children between 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.

The report, Actions for the government to improve oral health, calls on the government to develop a clear public health strategy where oral health is part of the debate on how to tackle chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

“We want to see a clear government strategy that raises awareness of the importance of simple measures such as reducing sugar consumption or visiting a dentist and drives up standards in oral health nationally,” said Professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the faculty.

“It is unacceptable that one-third of five year olds suffer from tooth decay in England,” he added.

“With the number of children being admitted to hospital for tooth extractions rising, we cannot afford to wait.

“We need to prevent children from reaching the stage where they need to undergo general anaesthetic in a hospital setting in the first place. By encouraging good oral health practice amongst children now we will decrease the likelihood of further problems into their adulthood.”