Dentists in Cornwall had dozens of admissions for tooth extractions on children with tooth decay in the year to March, new figures show.
While the number of procedures across England was down on pre-pandemic levels, the British Dentistry Association said the figures will likely end up exceeding pre-pandemic highs, as millions struggle to access dental care.
NHS Digital figures show around 70 admissions for children who needed teeth removed in the former NHS Kernow CCG area — down on 95 the year before.
The numbers have been rounded to the nearest five and do not represent the number of patients, as a child may have more than one admission within the period. The exact figures for fewer than eight admissions have not been disclosed due to patient confidentiality.
This was also fewer than the year before the pandemic, when around 130 procedures took place.
Across England, there were 29,981 admissions in the year to March, 3,833 fewer than between 2019-20.
Eddie Crouch, chairman of the BDA, said although the national figures are down on pre-pandemic highs, “it is not for want of demand”.
In Cornwall, most extraction procedures (25) were conducted on children aged 10 to 14, which accounted for 36% of the admissions.
Across England, the rate for this age group was 22%.
Children aged under five required the fewest procedures, with fewer than eight extractions conducted in Cornwall.
Mr Crouch added: “Tooth decay is a wholly preventable disease and remains the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children.
“With millions struggling to access care, and deep oral health inequalities set to widen, ministers cannot keep sitting by the side lines.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The number of children seen by NHS dentists rose by 43.6% last year.
“We are working to improve access to NHS dental care – investing more than £3 billion a year into dentistry – and we are also taking preventative measures to improve children’s oral health, such as expanding water fluoridation schemes which can significantly reduce the number of children experiencing tooth decay.
“Further reforms are planned for this year.”