THERE were hundreds of hospital admissions to remove Barnsley children’s rotting teeth last year - almost double the national average.

Figures from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities show there were an estimated 370 total hospital admissions in Barnsley for children’s tooth extraction in the year to March 2023.

Of these, about 315 were extractions for tooth decay.

The numbers are rounded to the nearest five.

Overall, the rate of tooth extractions in Barnsley was 670 per 100,000 children - above the national rate of 360 per 100,000.

Across NHS hospitals in England, there were 47,581 tooth extractions for patients under 19 years old.

Some 66 per cent of these extractions - or 31,165 - were down to a primary diagnosis of tooth decay, up 17 per cent from the previous 12 months.

David Fothergill, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “These stark figures reveal that a lack of access to affordable dentistry is having a worrying impact on the state of children’s teeth.

“The fact that, due to the severity of the decay, on average 119 operations are taking place each day to remove decaying teeth in children and teenagers is concerning and also adds to current pressures on our health service.

“Untreated dental care remains one of the most prevalent diseases affecting children and young people’s ability to speak, eat, play and socialise.”

Separately, figures from the government’s annual Oral Health Survey of year six children showed 16.2 per cent had experienced tooth decay, with those impacted experiencing decay in at least two teeth on average.

In Barnsley, about 29.6 per cent of ten to 11 year olds had experienced tooth decay.

Eddie Crouch, chairman of the British Dental Association, said ministers have ‘failed to grasp that decay and deprivation go hand in hand’.

He said: “This government likes to talk about prevention but has offered nothing.

“It has promised access for all but looks set to just throw money at target seats in rural England.

“Our youngest patients are continuing to pay the price.”

The figures also revealed geographical variations, with 23 per cent of children in Yorkshire and the Humber reporting tooth decay compared to 12 per cent in the South West.

This means the town’s tooth decay rate was much higher than the national and regional average.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Access to dentistry is improving, and last year around 800,000 more children saw an NHS dentist.”

They added £3bn is invested each year to deliver NHS dentistry and plans have been announced to increase dental training places by 40 per cent.

“We are also taking preventative measures, such as expanding water fluoridation schemes to reduce the number of children experiencing tooth decay,” they added.