Child's tooth removed in hospital due to preventable decay every 10 minutes
A child in England has a tooth removed in hospital due to preventable decay every 10 minutes, new figures reveal.
Almost 40,000 children had rotten teeth extracted in hospital last year, according to Public Health England (PHE) data.
This means around 141 children are being operated on across the country every working day.
PHE called on parents to protect their children's teeth by swapping sugary soft drinks for healthier alternatives, as the Government's sugar tax comes into force.
The official response to the "tooth decay epidemic" has been "woefully inadequate", the British Dental Association (BDA) said.
A total of 39,010 children aged 0 to 19 had teeth removed due to preventable tooth decay last year, the figures show.
The number is almost unchanged from 2015 to 2016, when 39,278 had extractions for that reason.
Tooth extraction remains the most common reason for hospital admissions among five to nine year olds, PHE said.
Dr Sandra White, dental lead for PHE, said: "It's upsetting to see so many children admitted to hospital with tooth decay, but swapping out sugary drinks could be an easy win for busy families.
"Parents can also help prevent decay by making sure their children's teeth are brushed twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and reducing how much sugar they're eating and drinking."
Juice drinks, energy drinks and fizzy drinks are one of the main sources of sugar in children's diets, according to PHE's Change4Life campaign.
Parents are advised to swap these products for less sugary alternatives including water and low fat milk.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, the BDA's chairman of general dental practice said: "In the face of a tooth decay epidemic the official response remains woefully inadequate.
"While devolved governments have rolled up their sleeves, authorities in England have chosen to rest on their laurels. The result is an oral health gap that shows no signs of closing."
Claire Stevens, president of the British Society for Paediatric Dentistry, said: "Tooth decay causes pain and discomfort for young children.
"In some cases decay is so serious that children need most or all of their teeth removed in one go - it's heartbreaking when this can be prevented through small changes."