Almost a fifth of primary school children have rotting teeth because they eat too many sweets and don’t brush their teeth properly

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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One in six children are leaving primary school with rotten teeth after gorging on sugary treats and failing to brush properly, figures reveal.

A survey of 53,073 children aged ten and 11 found 16 per cent had signs of tooth decay, with affected pupils having two rotten teeth on average.

The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities found stark disparities between deprived and affluent areas, with rates of decay of almost one in four (23 per cent) in the poorest area – more than double the one in ten (10 per cent) in the wealthiest.

Some 3 per cent of schoolchildren reported they ‘often’ or ‘very often’ had pain in their teeth or mouths and 2 per cent regularly had difficulty biting or chewing firm foods.

Wolverhampton has the highest percentage of children with decayed, missing or filled teeth at 42.7 per cent – compared to 12 per cent in the South West. 

A survey of 53,073 children found that 16 per cent had signs of tooth decay and on average two rotten teeth (file photo)

The British Dental Association accused ministers of ‘dragging their heels’ on policies that could narrow the ‘huge oral health gap’ among children.

Chairman Eddie Crouch said they ‘have failed to grasp that decay and deprivation go hand in hand’, adding: ‘This Government likes to talk about prevention but has offered nothing. It has promised access for all but looks set to just throw money at target seats in rural England.’

Labour health spokesman Preet Kaur Gill said: ‘The Conservatives have left NHS dentistry to rot, and now our children’s teeth are rotting too.’

She said Labour has a ‘fully costed plan to rescue NHS dentistry… paid for by abolishing the non-dom tax status’.

Wolverhampton has the highest percentage of children with decayed, missing or filled teeth at 42.7 per cent, the survey found (file photo)

Wolverhampton has the highest percentage of children with decayed, missing or filled teeth at 42.7 per cent, the survey found (file photo)

Dr Helen Stewart, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, described the figures as ‘nothing short of egregious’, adding: ‘If we are ever to make real sustainable change then we must get serious about ending child poverty once and for all.’

The Department of Health and Social Care said it invests £3billion a year in NHS dentistry and that last year around 800,000 more children saw an NHS dentist. 

It is also ‘taking preventative measures’, such as expanding water fluoridation to reduce tooth decay.

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