07 Apr

New report reveals 1 in 10 toddlers in England have decay

A new report has revealed that 1 in 10 toddlers in England have decayed teeth. 

Data published by Public Health England suggests that just over 10% of three-year-olds have signs of decay. The data was released as part of a research project into the state of oral health in pre-school children. The report indicated that children with decay had an average of three rotten teeth. 

The data used to compile the new report was collected from samples taken from almost 20,000 toddlers across England. As well as highlighting high rates of decay in young children, analysis also flagged significant variations in rates in different parts of the country. In some areas, up to a quarter of children had signs of decay. The proportion of children affected in Yorkshire and the Humber (14.7%) was double the figure for the East of England (6.7%). The highest rates of decay were identified in Salford, where over 27% of 3-year-olds had decay. 

Matthew Garrett, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in England, said that the high levels of decay documented in the report are “both shocking and upsetting.” Tooth decay is largely preventable and young children are being subjected to symptoms that could easily be avoided through good oral hygiene, a healthy diet and regular dental checks. 

Paediatric dentists in England have reported seeing children as young as two who need several teeth extracting under general anaesthetic. To combat rising rates of decay among toddlers, Mr Garrett is encouraging parents and carers to take their children for regular dental checks from the age of 12 months, to limit sugar consumption and snacking and to supervise teeth cleaning using fluoride toothpaste. 

Although dental practices were closed during the first lockdown, they have been open since June 2020 and it is hoped that routine checks will be widely available in the coming weeks and months. Getting children used to going to the dentist from an early age is beneficial for oral health, as well as wellbeing, as kids get used to the sights and sounds of the treatment room and they build relationships with the dental team, which reduces anxiety.