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Almost a quarter of 5 year old children suffering tooth decay with significant regional variation

10 May 2016

Public Health England has today published a survey which shows a slight improvement in the number of 5 year old children that showed no tooth decay in 2015 (75.2% compared with 73% in 2012).1 However, the data also shows significant variation across the country.
Responding to the data published, Professor Nigel Hunt, Dean of Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, said:
“It is encouraging to learn that there has been a slight increase in the number of 5 year old children that show no tooth decay. We should not be complacent though, 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.
“The results also show significant regional variation. For example in Blackburn and Darwen more than half of 5-year olds have tooth decay compared to around 10% in West Cheshire. By region, one-third of 5-year-olds in the North West are likely to have tooth decay compared with a fifth of children in the South East.
“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. 
“Government has begun to make steps in the right direction by introducing a sugar levy. It now needs to put real effort into improving access to NHS dentists and laying out a coherent children’s oral health strategy that takes into account the social inequalities in the prevalence of tooth decay this survey highlights. The Government’s imminent obesity strategy offers an opportunity to do this.”

Notes to editors:

  1. 2014/2015 Survey of 5 year old children:

For more information, please contact the RCS Press Office:

Telephone: 020 7869 6047/6052


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