One in 10 three-year-olds in England has rotten teeth, new figures show.
A new report which examines the extent of dental decay in pre-schoolers found that 10.7% of three-year-olds have some form of dental decay.
The data, from Public Health England, show that those youngsters with rotten teeth each had an average of three decayed teeth.
The data, drawn from a sample of almost 20,000 three-year-olds from across the country, found stark regional variations – in some places as many as one in four children had signs of decay.
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Three-year-old children living in Yorkshire and The Humber were more than twice as likely to have experience of dental decay (14.7%) than children living in the East of England (6.7%), the PHE report states.
In Salford, which had the highest prevalence in England, 27.5% of three-year-olds had signs of dental decay.
The authors of the report wrote: “Dental decay is largely a preventable disease.
“Poor oral health impacts on children and families affecting children’s ability to eat, smile and socialise and causing pain and infection with days missed at nursery, and for parents work, to attend the dentist and hospital to have teeth out.”
Commenting on the report, Matthew Garrett, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: “That children as young a three are experiencing high levels of tooth decay is both upsetting and shocking.
“This should not be happening. Tooth decay is almost wholly preventable by reducing the frequency of sugary snacks and drinks, brushing regularly with a fluoride toothpaste and routine visits to the dentist.
“Paediatric dentists tell us that children as young as two and three are being admitted to hospital to have rotting teeth taken out under general anaesthetic.
“It’s so important for children to have their first visit to the dentist by the time they turn one, to hopefully prevent these extreme measures.
“Some might think, ‘oh they are just baby teeth’, however, how we look after our teeth in childhood sets a pattern for our dental health in adulthood.
“While accessing a dentist at the start of the pandemic may have been difficult, it’s important for parents to know that dentists are now open. Dental practices are taking all possible precautions to remain Covid-safe.”
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