High rates of tooth decay
More than a third of children aged five have dental problems
CHILDREN in Hillingdon and Ealing have the worst teeth in London, new figures reveal.
Information from a Public Health England survey show that 39% of five-year-olds in Ealing had at least one tooth that had obvious signs of tooth decay. This equates to almost two in every five children of that age.
Obvious signs of decay are defined as a decaying tooth present in the mouth, missing teeth or fillings to replace past teeth that have decayed and fallen out.
It means that Ealing has the highest rate of five-year-olds with tooth decay in London, ahead of second-highest Hillingdon which had 37.8% of children of the same age suffering the problem.
Professor Nigel Hunt, Dean of Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, said the study highlights the importance of children brushing their teeth twice a day.
He said: “Public Health England’s survey still shows that almost a quarter (24.8%) of children in this age group suffer from visible tooth decay which is almost entirely preventable.
“We cannot overemphasise the importance of teaching children to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and making sure they consume less sugary food and drinks.
“Parents also need to ensure their children visit a dentist at least once a year from the first year of age – 40% of children do not.”
The alarming figures for Ealing and Hillingdon contrast to the average of 24.7% of five-year-olds in England who showed signs of obvious tooth decay.
And in Ealing the average child who showed signs of tooth decay had problems with 4.6 of their teeth, again the highest in London, compared to the national average of 3.4.
Councillor Hitesh Tailor, cabinet member for health and adults’ services said: “We are concerned to see this level of tooth decay among children, particularly as it’s largely preventable.
“We have been undertaking oral health work across the borough, including training oral health champions in children’s centres and work in schools, and we recognise that there is more we can do to support families to ensure that their children have good oral health.
“Actions such as toothbrushing twice a day – as soon as the first tooth comes through – and limiting the frequency and amount of sugary food and drinks to mealtimes can help contribute to better oral health.
“The introduction of the Government’s proposed ‘sugar tax’ in 2017 may also have an impact.”