The most common operation on children – dental extraction or clearance. At risk – a generation lost to good dental care

Dental care for children is still free in the UK Health Services. Despite this, many parents don’t know this and assume that because they can only get private care locally, that their children are under the same “rules of the game”. I am told that the most common operation on UK children is now dental extraction or clearance. It used to be grommets, or tonsillectomy… These are still common in the privately driven health services such as the US. But in UK medicine all children for non dental operations are seen and assessed by someone else prior to surgery. Dentistry is different. The same person assesses as operates – and this is a matter of legalised perverse incentives. Having a Dental Hygienist make the diagnoses, and the dental surgeon operate would remove this perverse incentive, probably reduce the need for surgery, and save money by rationing sensibly. The way to control the dental profession is the same as the medical profession – overcapacity.

Tonsillectomy and grommets are now part of the “proven unnecessary” operations in 90% of the cases performed when they topped the list in the UK. Good dental care prevents heart valve disease and many other problems. It is a disgrace that there is no education campaign to help parents be aware of their free dental service.

Ross Lydall in the Evening Standard 6th March 2017 reports: Parents ‘must make sure their children visit a dentist by the age of one’

Nine of the 10 boroughs with the UK’s worst rates for dental care are in the capital — with two-thirds of children aged up to 17 in Kensington and Chelsea, Hackney and Tower Hamlets not having seen a dentist last year.

Professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the Royal College of Surgeons’ faculty of dental surgery, said: “The number of children in London who did not see a dentist in 2016 is unacceptable…..

A toddler in Texas dies after unnecessary dental work. Reported in the Mail 29th March 2016.

Tonsillectomy the most common operation for kids in the USA.

THE most common operation being performed on children today is the insertion of tubes into the ears to combat the effects of middle-ear infections. 1986 New York Times

Public Health England survey: New PHE survey finds 12% of 3 year olds (In England – it will be worse in Wales) have tooth decay 30th September 2014

Who is entitled to free dental care in England? Health England

How could your teeth look after 10 years of sweetened soft drinks – The Mail

Why were doctors treated differently to dentists? Perverse…

Dentists are overwhelmed. Patients and politicians are in denial. Rheumatic fever may follow… “The NHS dental service is broken”

Health Services (England) dentistry “for sale”.

Dentistry is important – for an important sub group…

Dentistry now outside the Health Services for most of the nation

Five million children failed to see a dentist in past year..






This entry was posted in A Personal View, Commissioning, Perverse Incentives, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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