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Impact on children and families

Tooth decay causes pain and suffering. It affects the daily lives of children (and their families) including what they eat, their speech, self-esteem, it stops them from doing things they enjoy and can cause disrupted sleep. Parents of children with tooth decay often report feeling guilty and upset.  


Tooth decay and its treatment can also cause children to worry and miss time from nursery or school. Many parents must take time off work to care for their child and attend appointments.  


When young children have several decayed teeth, they often need treatment in hospital under general anaesthetic (being put to sleep). In England, dental treatment is the most common reason why children have a general anaesthetic. This care in hospital costs the NHS over £50 million every year. 


Poor oral health in childhood has lifelong impacts. Children with decay in their primary teeth are four times more likely to then develop decay in their adult teeth.  

For exact data on extractions, see here: Hospital-based tooth extractions in 0 to 19 year olds

PHE Health Matters Child Dental Health
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