The number of five-year-old children with tooth decay is falling. But in spite of that, over one in four children have the condition, figures released by Public Health England suggest.
Based on 133,000 dental examinations in the UK, the Public Health England survey covered more than one-fifth of the nation’s five-year-olds.
Results showed that the proportion of children with tooth decay was 27%, down from the 30% recorded during the previous analysis in 2008. On average, children with tooth decay had between three and four bad teeth and 3% of them have had one or more teeth removed, the figures revealed.
The research also found there was a wide gap between the best and the worst areas. For instance, tooth decay affected just over 21% of five-year-olds in the south-east of England, while the proportion reached almost 35% in the north-west. The lowest rate of tooth decay was recorded in Brighton and Hove, where 12.5% of the children surveyed had the condition, compared to 53.2% in Leicester.
Experts explain that tooth decay is largely a result of a poor diet and substandard care, including not brushing teeth properly and not visiting a dentist on a regular basis. In order to help children brush their teeth properly, parents are advised to supervise the way they carry out the activity until they are seven or eight.
Although tooth decay will disappear once milk teeth fall out, there is a danger that poor oral hygiene may become an “ingrained habit” over the years and could lead to problems with adult teeth later.