While the Public Health England (PHE) statistics represent a slight fall overall in the number of five-year-olds with tooth decay on the previous year, down to 23 per cent from 25 per cent, there are wide regional variations with children in deprived areas more likely to be affected.
A breakdown of the figures by area show the North West had the highest number of five-year-olds with tooth decay at 34 per cent, followed by Yorkshire and The Humber at 30 per cent.
The best performing areas were the South East where 16 per cent of five-year-olds presented with tooth decay in 2016-17, and the East of England (18 per cent).
On average, one tooth per child was affected by decay.
Figures released by PHE in April revealed over 60,000 days a year are missed from school due to children attending hospital to have teeth extracted.
Dr Sandra White, dental lead for Public Health England, said, ‘It’s encouraging to see dental decay declining across England, however, almost a quarter of five-year-olds are still suffering from this preventable condition.
‘Children in our most deprived communities continue to be hit the hardest – we need more local authorities using targeted interventions to reduce these inequalities.’
Commenting on the figures, shadow health minister Julie Cooper said, ‘These shocking and worsening inequalities in tooth decay are a stark indictment of Tory failure to maintain essential NHS services. Tooth decay is still the leading cause of hospital admissions for five to nine-year-olds, and yet it is almost entirely preventable.
‘If this Government is serious about improving children’s health, oral health cannot remain neglected and underfunded.
‘The next Labour government will tackle entirely preventable conditions such as dental decay and work to make Britain’s children the healthiest in the world.’