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Norwich dentist warns of 'deeply disturbing' rise in removal of children's teeth

PUBLISHED: 18:46 16 January 2018 | UPDATED: 18:46 16 January 2018

Gautam Sharma from West Earlham Dental Health Practice. Photo: West Earlham Dental Health

Gautam Sharma from West Earlham Dental Health Practice. Photo: West Earlham Dental Health

West Earlham Dental Health

A Norfolk dentist has warned the state of children's teeth are worsening as childhood tooth extractions are rising alarmingly.

Gautam Sharma, who sees NHS and private patients at his West Earlham Dental Health Practice, said figures released by the Local Government Association (LGA) this week that 43,000 children and teenagers underwent “completely preventable” operations were not surprising.

The analysis of NHS spending data found £36.2m was spent on the procedures nationally and there was an almost 20pc increase in extractions over the past four years.

Having been in practice since 2009, Mr Sharma admitted he was worried things were getting increasingly worse, and said both parents and children lacked sufficient education around dental health.

He said: “Sadly, the insight given nationally this week about a huge rise in children having extractions, is something I very much see across the NHS and private patients I see at my practice. It is deeply disturbing, and I sense that we’ll see this data continue to get worse year on year.”

Dr Sharma said a mass education approach is necessary to help curtail the increase in the alarming rates.

“We need more joined up thinking across schools and community health outreach to ensure that families really understand the implications,” he said.

“With year on year reductions in the NHS dental budget, the government is making it extremely difficult to tackle the grass root issues of the problem.”

Dr Sharma and his team have made prevention of decay their core objective and have started their own teeth for life programme, as well as voluntarily teaming up with the Sure Start Centre to deliver free oral healthcare messages to their local area.

“As a professional, but also as a parent, it worries me hugely that the message is not getting through,” he said.

“My team and I are passionate about changing the understanding, and the best approach is for us to emphasise prevention. I would welcome the opportunity to talk to schools or community health projects on this area because I really want to do all we can to ensure fewer children across the region are facing extractions at a premature age.”

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