Quarter of children starting primary school in Leeds have suffered from tooth decay

A quarter of children starting primary school in Leeds have suffered from tooth decay – but the oral health of youngsters in the area is improving, figures show.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 5:00 pm

The British Dental Association warned that “grotesque” health inequalities among children in different areas of the country are set to widen as they lose out on free check-ups and school meals during the coronavirus pandemic.

A Public Health England survey of 1,315 five-year-olds in Leeds found tooth decay in 26 per cent of children in the 2018-19 academic year. The latest population estimates from the Office for National Statistics show there are 10,292 five-year-olds in the area, meaning 2,680 may be suffering with dental problems.

In 2016-17, 31 per cent of children surveyed had tooth decay, suggesting that Leeds children have better oral health now than they did two years ago. Affected children in Leeds often had widespread issues, with multiple teeth showing signs.

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Amid the Covid-19 outbreak, NHS England has urged dental practices to stop routine, non-urgent care until further notice, meaning five-year-olds will miss out on routine check-ups in the coming weeks. Mick Armstrong, chairman of the British Dental Association, said: “In the 21st century we shouldn’t accept that the oral health gap between children from wealthier and more deprived communities is inevitable.”

In a report, Public Health England said dental decay among young children “remains an important public health issue.”