Sugary food blamed as 160 children have teeth pulled out every day
More than 160 operations to remove multiple teeth from children were carried out every working day in England last year, usually as a result of tooth decay, data suggests.
There were 40,800 hospital operations to remove teeth in under-18s at a cost of more than £35.6 million, according to figures analysed by the Local Government Association (LGA).
This is a 10.7% rise on the number of operations in 2012/13, the LGA said.
Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the LGA's community wellbeing board, said: "These figures are a stark reminder of the damage excessive sugar consumption is doing to our children's teeth.
"It is deeply worrying that the type of dental treatment required is beyond the capacity of a local dentist, due to the severity of the tooth decay, and as a result has to be done in a hospital."
Mick Armstrong, chairman of the British Dental Association (BDA), said: "The millions spent on child tooth extractions in hospitals are emblematic of the Government's disinterest in oral health.
"We simply cannot keep pouring NHS resources into avoidable surgery while ministers fail to deliver the goods on prevention.
"Authorities in Scotland and Wales have set out dedicated strategies that are making real headway in the fight against a preventable disease. Ministers in England cannot remain bystanders.
"The sugar levy has to be the beginning of a process that sees communities given the tools and the leadership to turn the tide on decay."
A spokesman for the BDA added: "Tooth decay is now the leading cause of hospital admissions among children and these alarming statistics, in all likelihood, underestimate the problem.
"While a small number of the procedures will be required for orthodontic reasons, these stats have focused on multiple extractions - excluding the large number of removals of individual teeth - the vast majority of which would likely be for tooth decay."
A Government spokesman said: "It is shocking to see so many children having teeth removed.
"We know that over half the child population visited an NHS dentist over the last two years, which is important, but parents should help their children to avoid sugary drinks and brush their teeth regularly.
"We are introducing a soft drinks levy, as well as a broader sugar reduction programme, to encourage food and drink companies to reduce the amount of sugar that is in products in the first place."