CHILDREN are young as three suffering painful tooth decay are facing long waits for extractions, according to a dentist in an area of the city with high demand for the procedure.

A ‘rapid access clinic’ has been set up at Glasgow's children’s hospital with theatre sessions increased in a bid to speed up waiting times.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said at this time, no children were waiting longer than twelve weeks to undergo extractions after referral from a dentist.

However, David McColl, vice-chair of the British Dental Association in Scotland and a dentist in Govanhill said this was not his experience, with children in his area facing up to 23 weeks, in some cases.

He said the issue will be raised with health secretary Jeane Freeman next month.

The procedure can only be carried out in hospitals, not dental practices, following the case of six-year-old Ryan Gallacher who was left severely brain damaged after he went into cardiac arrest while having nine teeth removed under general anaesthetic at Townhead Health Centre in Glasgow in 2002.

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The problem typically affects children under five from the poorest backgrounds and recent immigrant populations.

Mr McColl said: “We are are referring children as young as three or four for extraction and it might take 12 weeks before they are actually assessed (by a specialist).

“They are basing the waiting list on referral from me to the first appointment.

“What they are not saying is the time from referral (from me) to actual treatment.

“It’s a long time to wait. I don’t think that people realise the impact it has on that child.

“They can’t eat properly and it upset the family dynamic if they are up during the night.

“When cases are prioritised as urgent, it cancels out the waiting list.

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“In my opinion, all cases should be urgent. These children are all going to get a swollen face and an abscess.

“Twenty years ago when a child needed a tooth out that it was done the next day. Now, here we are in 2018 and we are waiting six months.

A spokeswoman for NHSGGC said longer waits in areas such as Govanhill could be down to parents not turning up for appointments. Mr McColl said delays could also be due to a failure to secure an interpreter for ethnic minority families.

He said:”Shona Robison gave us assurances that she would look into it but unfortunately she has now resigned. We will be speaking with the new health secretary in November and this is one of the items on the agenda.

“All we want to go do is get these kids definite treatment.”