More than a quarter of five-year-olds have tooth decay

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According to figures published by Public Health England (PHE) on the oral health of five year olds, over 27 per cent of children in 2012 had tooth decay.

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On average, these children had between three and four teeth that were decayed, missing or filled.

The figures, based on 133,000 children aged five attending ‘mainstream’ schools, also show that tooth decay was more common in children in the North of England and those living in deprived areas.

Nearly 35 per cent of children in the North West had tooth decay last year compared to just over 21 per cent in the South East.

Despite this, the figures suggest there has been an improvement in the number of children free of cavities compared to findings from the same survey four years ago.

In 2008, 31 per cent of five-year-olds had tooth decay, falling to 28 per cent in 2012.

In total, 72 per cent of five-year-olds were free from tooth decay last year, up from 69 per cent in 2008.

Professor Kevin Fenton, director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE, said, ‘This latest survey shows the numbers of five year olds free from tooth decay have improved but there is still much to do, dental decay is preventable.

‘Parents should brush their children’s teeth for at least two minutes twice a day, once just before bedtime and at least one other time during the day. Also supervise tooth brushing until your child is seven or eight-years-old.’

Judy More, a paediatric dietician and member of the Infant and Toddler Forum, said, ‘It’s good news that national rates of tooth decay in five year olds have slightly improved, but there are still areas where one in two children have decayed teeth. Healthcare professionals, parents and carers still need advice and support to ensure that decay levels continue to fall.’

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