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Last Updated: Friday April 10 2009 13:57 GMT

Rocketing rise of rotten teeth

Someone having their teeth checked by a dentist

It's probably not something you want to hear if you've got a sweet tooth, but the number of kids going to hospital with rotten teeth is rocketing.

Researchers reckon up to 30,000 kids every year now go to hospital to have teeth removed or treated for decay.

That's a whopping 70% increase over the past 12 years and experts say eating too much sugary stuff and not brushing your teeth properly are to blame.

Children from poor areas were found to be twice as likely to need treatment.

Experts say tooth decay is preventable by brushing your teeth regularly and having check-ups at the dentist.

Prof David Moles, who led the study, said the annual increase in hospital admissions was despite the fact that rates of tooth decay and infection had stayed about the same.

But not everyone is convinced by the findings.

Government health officials say the rising figures are partly due to the fact that more teeth now have to be removed in hospitals instead of dental surgeries for safety reasons.

"Recent statistics from the World Health Organisation show that our 12-year olds have the healthiest teeth in Europe," a spokesman said.