The Labour Party has pledged to rescue NHS dentistry, as analysis reveals one in six children are leaving primary school in England with rotting teeth. In Suffolk, 11.7 per cent of children aged 10-11 years old have rotting, filled or missing teeth.

Tooth decay is the number one reason six to 10 year-olds are admitted to hospital, with an average of 190 children undergoing tooth extractions every single day, mainly due to decay.

The data has revealed that over 500 (505) 0–19-year-olds in Suffolk were admitted to hospital to have their teeth pulled out last year. The number of children going to hospital to have rotting teeth pulled out shot up by 17 per cent in 2023.

Across England, the rate of extractions was nearly three and a half times higher in the most deprived communities compared with the most affluent areas.

The Labour Party says the collapse of NHS dentistry has left thousands of children unable to get an appointment when they need one, with more than two out of three dental surgeries not currently accepting any children as patients.

Eddie Crouch, chair of the British Dental Association, said, “In its 75th year NHS dentistry faces a crisis like no other in its history. Government have offered empty spin, rather than a serious plan to save this service. Our youngest patients are already paying the price.”

Labour will launch a Dentistry Rescue Plan in government to get the service back on it feet. The party will roll out supervised toothbrushing in schools for 3–5-year-olds, targeted at the areas with highest childhood tooth decay.

The supervised toothbrushing scheme will cost £9m per year, which is dwarfed by the estimated £64.3m that it costs for child tooth extractions in hospital. The plan also includes funding for 700,000 extra urgent and emergency appointments, and reform of the NHS dental contract.

Jess Asato, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lowestoft, said, “Lack of access to dentistry is one of the issues which many residents in Lowestoft have raised with me - shockingly some people have been forced to pull out their own teeth.

“After 14 years of Conservative neglect, tooth decay is the number one reason young children are admitted to hospital. It can’t be right that you have to go to an already over-burdened A&E just to get help.”

Jess is running a survey to understand the issues residents are facing in trying to access dentistry across the Lowestoft constituency.

Jess added, “The next Labour government will rescue NHS dentistry by gripping the immediate crisis and reforming the service in the long-term. We will deliver 700,000 extra urgent appointments a year, introduce a targeted national toothbrushing scheme in schools, and reform the dental contract to restore NHS dentistry in the long run.”