AQW 4153/22-27

Mr Mark Durkan
Social Democratic and Labour Party

Tabled Date: 05/10/2022
Answered On Date: 12/10/2022
Priority Written: No

To ask the Minister of Health to outline the number of people under 18 years of age who have had operations to remove rotting teeth for each of the last five years.

The number of people under 18 years of age who have had operations to remove rotting teeth for each of the last five years is not available.
The HSC Business Services Organisation (BSO) holds information on treatments that take place in primary care i.e. high street dental practices employing a dentist who has made an arrangement with the Department of Health’s Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG) to provide health service dentistry. BSO does not hold any information in relation to wholly private treatments that are carried out by dental practices.
The number of children’s teeth extracted, and the number of children treated for an extraction, under health service dentistry in primary care for each of the last five complete financial years, are shown in Table 1. Extractions are not always performed on decayed teeth, particularly in preparation for orthodontic treatments where healthy teeth will be extracted. BSO does not hold information on the reason for an extraction, therefore the numbers in Table 1 represent more than just the extraction of decayed teeth. In addition, children who have extractions carried out in hospital under general anaesthetic are not included in these figures nor are those who may have had extractions in Urgent Dental Care Centres which were set up during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Table 1: Number of teeth extracted from children and the number of unique children1 treated for an extraction2 under health service dentistry in primary care by Financial Year3.
Financial Year3
Teeth Extracted from Children
Unique Children Treated1
Source: Family Practitioner Services, HSC Business Services Organisation.
1 Age is calculated at the start of treatment. Children are those under 18.
2 Treatment codes for extractions are all 21, 22 and 52 codes except 2121 and 5206. (See SDR for more details Based on paid treatments and information supplied by dentist making the claim. Excludes all private work. Excludes work carried out in hospitals. May include small number of duplicates.
3 Financial year relates to when claim was paid, this is not necessarily the same year as when the treatment took place.
4 On 23rd March 2020, general dental practitioners (GDPs) were advised to continue to see patients who did not meet the COVID-19 case definition and who required urgent dental care which could be provided using non-aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) however all routine dental treatment was to be postponed. In addition, 5 Trust-based Urgent Dental Care Centres were opened at the beginning of April 2020. From 29th June 2020, non-urgent dental care was provided under Phase 2 but AGPs were still prohibited. It was decided to offer a fast-track option to move to Phase 3 from 1 July 2020 onwards for those practices that are able to demonstrate that they meet all the necessary standards to safely offer AGPs and non-urgent/routine care.
The number of admissions of under 18’s to HSC hospitals in Northern Ireland for a tooth extraction, for each of the last five complete financial years, are shown in Table 2. These figures also represent the total number of extractions and cannot be broken down by reason for extraction, so the number of admissions to remove rotting teeth is not available.
Table 2: Number of Admissions5 to HSC Hospitals in Northern Ireland for a Tooth Extraction6, 2017/18 - 2021/22
Financial Year
Number of admissions5 for under 18's
Source: Hospital Inpatient System
5 Admissions are approximated through hospital discharges. These figures do not denote individuals
6 Tooth Extraction procedures have been identified using the OPCS4.8 codes F09 and F10 in the primary procedure fields in the Hospital Inpatient System