Sugary drinks and parents not ensuring good dental hygiene have been blamed for hundreds of children as young as six needing rotten teeth pulled.

Parents are even collecting their children from surgery will a bag of sweets or other such sugar rich products.

Senior dentists at Peninsula Community Health (PCH) dental facilities at the Truro Health Park, with over 75 years of professional experience say 99 per cent of cases were preventable.

Andrew Wallis, Cornwall Council's portfolio holder for children and young people, who visited the health park and was allowed to attend theatre procedures at RCHT, called it a "shocking figure". 

Mr Wallis said: "If you look at the financial cost of treatment this is a staggering waste of money. It would be easy to blame the lack of NHS dentist, but this is not the case. As all the professionals I spoke to say the main culprits to poor dental are diet, and very poor dental hygiene.

"Considering each general anaesthetic procedure costs an average of £500 the costs soon adds up. When the managers of PCH told me they carried out 1,000 such routines each year you start to get into eye watering amounts of money that is being spent, but could be saved by better preventative work rather than having to spend it removing decayed teeth. 

"For me it really hit home when I attended the theatre procedures and witnessed the removal of many children’s teeth. All of the procedures today were for tooth decay. In fact, if parents were allowed to witness teeth being extracted, they might, just might, take a better interest in making sure children look after their teeth better. As the extractions are carried out by medical versions of pliers. For all the care the staff give to the patient, you cannot help wince as teeth are being pulled out.

Mr Wallis said that the procedures he witnessed are repeated four times a week with each ‘list’ having at least six patients.

Adding: "If you thought the children who had GA’s today were of an older age range, you would be wrong. The ages were six to eight years old.

"I am not saying parent should stop giving sweets and sugary treats to children, as this is not my place, and is the responsibility of the parents. But more care must be taken if children want to have healthy teeth not just as children, but into adulthood too. I know as a parent myself, it made me think.

"However, it did strike me wrong when the professionals informed me of parents collecting their children from surgery will a bag of sweets or other such sugar rich products. You got to question the logic, especially when a child has had several teeth removed for decay, and the parent arrives with more sugar related products."

"Going forward and actually trying to address this issue, I believe more work could be carried in schools and in the home on education and helping parents prevent their children having to have teeth removed for decay. Furthermore, I am pleased at a recent successful pilot of working in schools and will be working with the various organisations to see how this could be expanded across Cornwall."

This is The West Country: