More than 170 children under the age of four had to be put under general anaesthetic to have decayed teeth removed last year.
The figures are higher in York than the national average – and a City of York Council expert said the reason might be because dentists in the city are not confident enough to take children’s teeth out under local anaesthetic at the surgery.
A council meeting heard that tooth decay among babies and children up to the age of four is “entirely preventable”.
But the council confirmed 177 youngster had been sent to hospital to have teeth taken out under general anaesthetic during 2017/18.
Hard to explain
Fiona Phillips, from the council’s public health team, said:
We couldn’t really fully explain that when we looked at the data.
Is it because we have dentists who are working in the community who don’t feel confident to take out a child’s teeth in their dental practice? And therefore they refer them in to hospital to have it taken out under general anaesthetic?
We didn’t find any evidence that the oral health of five-year-olds was worse in York than than anywhere else – in fact it was slightly better than the England average.
What the data was telling us is that we don’t have necessarily children who have worse oral health but for some reason in York they are more likely to be referred to a hospital to have a tooth taken out.
Cllr Paul Doughty asked if the figures could be down to parents struggling to find an NHS dentist for their children.
But he was told that 86 per cent of young people regularly see a dentist in the city – and that there is a community dental practice at Monkbar Clinic for those who cannot get an appointment.
The council has set up an oral health advisory group and is working on promoting healthy eating for children.
Ms Phillips added that specialist training to help dentists work with children could also be rolled out.
But dental services in the city are commissioned by NHS England who will be invited to the next meeting of the health and adult social care committee to discuss the findings.