Child dentist
The number of hospital tooth extractions has risen by 24% in the past decade. PA

Thousands of toddlers are having their baby teeth removed in hospital each year. Dental experts say sugary diets are to blame.

There has been a 24% increase in the last decade in the number of children under the age of four requiring tooth extraction, according to The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons.

Latest figures show that the number of extractions increased from 7,400 in 2006/7 to 9,206 in 2015/16. According to the faculty, the increase is higher than expected from population growth alone.

Lead researcher Professor Nigel Hunt said that children's "sweet habits" are having a "devastating effect on the state of their teeth" and that it is "shocking" that children as young as one or two needed to have their teeth removed.

Over 45 children under the age of one had teeth removed in 2015/16.

"Despite NHS dental treatment being free for under-18s, 42% of children did not see a dentist in 2015/16," Professor Hunt said. "What is really distressing about these figures is that 90% of tooth decay is preventable through reducing sugar consumption, regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste and routine dental visits."

The Department of Health is introducing a soft drinks levy to encourage food and drinks companies to lower the amount of sugar in their products. A spokesman for the department said: "These are worrying statistics – which is why we are taking action."

Child at the dentist
Thousands of young children are having their teeth removed every year due to sugary diets. Getty