That’s the message from Bradford South MP Judith Cummins as latest figures reveal almost 1,800 Bradford children have had teeth extracted under general anaesthetic over the last four years - at an eye-watering cost of around £1.5 million to the NHS.

Mrs Cummins has spoken out 12 months on from the launch of the Telegraph & Argus’s Stop the Rot campaign, which came about in the face of dire statistics on oral health in the district.

Over the past year, the campaign has worked to highlight the need for change, helping to secure extra dental funding for Bradford, receiving praise from Government minister Steve Brine and being highlighted in Parliament.

Mrs Cummins said: “Twelve months on since the start of the ‘Stop the Rot’ campaign progress has been made through the combined efforts of local partners and their determination to improve the oral health of Bradford’s children.

“Working together with the T&A on this campaign has clearly highlighted the need for change and where that change can make a real difference.”

She added: “In a follow up meeting to our dental summit a local NHS dentist and nearby school are now working together on an oral health preventative programme. This kind of early action needs to be built on so that it becomes the norm.”

“Prevention is better than cure for everyone. An early-years intervention programme of supervised brushing and fluoride varnishes will pay dividends later in reduced treatment costs. It will also spare children the misery of rotten teeth and hospital extractions.”

“Perversely, however, the Government’s squeeze on public health funding hits the local programmes that could help prevent the bad oral health in children that leads to a hospital visit.

“The latest figures from Public Health England show that over the last four years almost 1,800 Bradford children have had teeth extracted in hospital under general anaesthetic at an estimated cost to the NHS of £1.5 million. Last year alone 367 Bradford children, under the age of 10 had teeth removed in hospital. This is scandalous number and it has to be brought down.

“A national roll out of Starting Well - an oral health early intervention program piloted in 13 Clinical Commissioning Groups by government is long overdue.”

“The recognition of the problem in Bradford and the redirection of some NHS England resources into dental practices has been a welcome move.

“This has provided funding for additional NHS appointments at local dentists. The basic deficiency in numbers of NHS dentists, however, remains and I will keep pressing for government to provide the resources to change this.”

Meanwhile, the British Dental Association (BDA) is calling for a national programme to improve children’s oral health, modelled on projects operating in both Wales (Designed2Smile) and Scotland (Childsmile).

BDA Chair Mick Armstrong and NHS dentist in Castleford, said: “The Stop the Rot campaign has shown what quality local journalism can achieve.

“It’s helped secure reinvestment in local services, and turned up the volume on the debate over NHS dentistry in Westminster.

“However there is so much more to do.

“Bradford’s hospitals can’t afford to be spending over a million on extractions.

“Tooth decay is entirely preventable, and tried and tested policies could help kids avoid pain and distress while saving the NHS a fortune.

“But communities across Yorkshire need resources and leadership from Westminster. Simple ideas like supervised brushing in nurseries would pay for themselves, but our cash-strapped councils can’t do this alone.”

The BDA has also hit out at the latest above inflation increase in dental charges, which means a routine check-up will increase by £1.10 to £22.70.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We want every single person to have access to high quality dental care, wherever they live - in the last year 100,000 more children were seen by a dentist than in the same period the previous year and all children remain exempt from dental charges.

“We are also driving action to protect our children’s teach from decay by tackling the causes.

“Our sugar levy has already seen sugar cut from half of drinks on sale and we are consulting on restrictions on promotions of sugary foods, as well as improving oral health with a wider focus on prevention in the NHS Long Term Plan.”