Parents have been warned to take their kids to regular annual appointments to help avoid tooth decay.
Campaigners have hit out at the “national disgrace” of families not taking up free dental care. Preventable tooth decay in kids – caused by sugary drinks and snacks – costs the health service around £50 million a year.
The NHS figures reveal that 6.9 million children have visited the dentist in the past year – just under 60 per cent of the total.
It was revealed last month that 322 kids under 10 have had full teeth extractions in the past five years.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, Chair of General Dental Practice at the British Dental Association, said: “The fact nearly 5 million children are missing out on free dental care is nothing short of a national disgrace, but it’s the logical result of policies from successive governments.
“Tooth decay – a preventable disease – remains the leading cause of hospital admissions for children, but instead of public information campaigns, Westminster has offered radio silence.
“We see parents left in the dark, and key public health messages going undelivered.
"The onus is now on Ministers to stop just providing reasons to avoid regular check-ups, and to put prevention into practice.”
Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: “Good oral health is absolutely vital for ensuring a child develops and flourishes.
“But when tooth decay is one the leading reasons for child emergency hospital admissions it’s clear we need to do more to improve children’s oral hygiene.
“The health and well-being of children will be Labour’s priority.
"Ministers must invest more in dentistry and take radical action to tackle our addiction to sugar.”
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