- People with signs of cavities had an average of two rotten teeth, survey finds
- British Dental Association blames lack of measures to prevent poor dental health
One in six children leave primary school with rotten teeth after gorging on sugary treats and failing to brush properly, official figures show.
The Office of Health Improvement and Disparities examined 53,073 children ages 10 and 11 and found that 16 percent had signs of cavities.
Affected students had an average of two rotten teeth.
The survey found stark disparities between deprived and wealthy areas, with deterioration rates rising to almost one in four (23 per cent) in the poorest area, more than double the one in ten (10 per cent) in the richer.
Meanwhile, 3 percent of schoolchildren reported that they “often” or “very often” had pain in their teeth or mouth and 2 percent had had difficulty biting or chewing firm foods regularly over the past three months .
The survey found that of 53,073 children ages 10 and 11, 16 percent had signs of cavities. It also revealed stark differences between deprived and wealthy areas.
Dental leaders today warned that ministers have “failed to understand that cavities and deprivation go hand in hand” and said a lack of measures to prevent poor dental health means children “continue to pay the price.” .
Deterioration rates varied across the country, reaching a high of 23 per cent in Yorkshire and The Humber and falling to a low of 12 per cent in the south west.
More locally, Wolverhampton has the highest percentage of children with decayed, missing or filled teeth – 42.7 per cent.
There are also variations between ethnic groups, with rates of 13 per cent among black or black British, 16 per cent among white, 18 per cent among Asian or Asian British and 22 per cent among ‘other’ ethnicities.
The British Dental Association accused ministers of “prolonging their efforts” on policies that could reduce the “huge oral health gap” between children.
Eddie Crouch, president of the British Dental Association, said: “For a generation ministers have failed to understand that decline and deprivation go hand in hand.
‘This Government likes to talk about prevention but it has not offered anything.
“He has promised access for all, but it looks like he will limit himself to spending money on specific seats in rural England.
“Our youngest patients continue to pay the price.”
Last month, the Labor Party announced it would introduce measures such as supervised toothbrushing for young children at free breakfast clubs to combat cavities.
Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said issues such as “cavities, stunting and stagnating life expectancy should be consigned to the history books but are instead the reality of Conservative Britain.” .
Preet Kaur Gill, Labour’s shadow health minister, said: “The Conservatives have let NHS dentistry rot, and now our children’s teeth are rotting too.”
‘It is shocking that thousands of children have mouth pain so intense that it is difficult for them to eat. No child should suffer from toothache at school.
‘The Labor Party has a fully costed plan to rescue NHS dentistry by tackling the immediate crisis and reforming the service for the long term.
“We will offer 700,000 urgent appointments, recruit new dentists for the most deprived areas and introduce a national toothbrushing scheme aimed at children aged 3 to 5, funded by the abolition of non-dom tax status.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We want to improve oral hygiene and access to dental care for all children, regardless of where they live in England.”
‘Access to dentistry is improving and last year around 800,000 more children visited an NHS dentist.
‘We invest £3 billion each year to deliver dentistry in the NHS and have announced plans to increase dental training places by 40 per cent.
‘We are also taking preventive measures, such as expanding water fluoridation programs to reduce the number of children suffering from cavities.
“We have already taken steps to improve access and incentivize practices to provide more NHS dental care, and we will set out further measures in our Dental Recovery Plan in due course.”