MORE than 28,000 children in Dorset did not see their dentist last year, figures show.

Figures from NHS Digital showed that 28,986 children (39.6 per cent) did not visit the dentist in 2017, putting them at risk of rotten teeth and gum disease.

Meanwhile, 60.4 (43,480) per cent of youngsters in the county, had an annual check up.

Public Health England recommends regular trips to the dentist to stop children needing tooth extractions.

The figures come after the NHS highlighted that in England, the most common reason for under 18s to attend hospital was for multiple rotten teeth extractions, incidents where decay is so advanced that dentists are unable to treat it at their surgeries.

Figures from 2012/13, revealed that there were 36,883 extractions where at least two teeth had to be removed, however by 2016/17 this had risen to 42,911.

The British Dental Association (BDA) said they were ‘shocked’ by the findings saying that the low number of check ups was a ‘significant’ contributing factor.

Mick Armstrong, chairman of the British Dental Association, added: “It’s disappointing that around four in 10 children in Dorset are not seeing the dentist as often as they should, especially when NHS dentistry is free to those who are under 18 years of age.

“NICE recommends that children should be seen by a dentist at least once a year, and as soon as the first teeth appear or by the age of one.

“The British Dental Association believes that these figures reflect the failure by successive governments to deliver a coherent oral health strategy and effective public engagement.

“It’s lamentable that there is no nationwide programme in England aimed at children to improve their dental health equivalent to Childsmile in Scotland or Designed to Smile in Wales.”

“Tooth decay – a preventable disease – remains the leading cause of hospital admissions for children, but instead of delivering public information campaigns the government is leaving parents in the dark .”

However, the figures show that adults do not set a good example for children with only 52 per cent of adults (165,040) across the county seeing the dentist in the last 24 months.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman, added: “We are determined to reduce the number of children having teeth extracted because of tooth decay, that’s why we’re introducing a sugar tax on soft drinks with the most added sugar, which comes into effect next month.

“Access to dental services continues to increase nationally – in 2017, 6.9 million children were seen by a dentist representing 58.2 per cent of the child population.”