Simple measures can prevent the need for a child’s teeth to be extracted in hospital. The rise in the number of admissions may result, in part, from a change in regulations, such that general anaesthetics in dental treatment are carried out only in hospital. But it does suggest that children face risky general anaesthetics in cases of wholly preventable decay.

As many know, brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, visiting a dentist regularly and avoiding frequent sugary snacks and drinks will best help to maintain a healthy smile.

Sadly, oral health is another area in which a divide occurs between rich and poor. The mouth needs time to restore its acidic balance and protect the teeth, so it is vital to cut down on harmful drinks and snacks. Even some health foods can be harmful. Fruit smoothies and raisin snacks stick to the teeth and expose them to acid attacks.

There is some evidence of a rise in dental decay among the under-5s, though this is most likely down to a proliferation of low-fluoride toothpastes. Parents should be buying fluoride pastes at 1,000 parts per million (ppm) for under-3s, and 1,350 ppm thereafter, and can look for “Foundation Approved” logos to ensure that products are effective.

The foundation has also called for sugary, acidic foods and drinks to be removed from school vending machines. We encourage the fluoridation of water supplies and welcome the planned consultations on the move in the North West and Yorkshire, where decay figures have been higher in the past.