Nearly one in five three year olds in Leeds and Wakefield suffer from tooth decay, shocking figures reveal today.
Across Yorkshire, around one in eight youngsters aged three has tooth decay, according to the first survey ever carried out on the age group in England.
But in Leeds and Wakefield the figures show nearly 20 per cent of children have dental problems.
Experts are blaming the numbers on parents who give their children sugary food and drinks.
Public Health England found on average 11.7 per cent of three-year-olds nationally had three teeth that were decayed, missing or filled compared to 12.6 per cent in Yorkshire.
In Leicester, as many as a third of children had dental decay, falling to one in 50 in south Gloucestershire.
Experts examined the teeth of more than 50,000 youngsters at their nursery, children’s centre or playgroup during 2012-13. They found the four regions with highest levels of tooth decay were the East Midlands, North West, London and Yorkshire.
Officials said that some children had a particular type of decay known as early childhood caries. This affects the upper front teeth and spreads quickly to other teeth. It is linked to the consumption of sugary drinks in baby bottles or sipping cups.
Kate Jones, consultant in dental public health for Public Health England in the region, said: “While there have been significant improvements to the nation’s oral health, some areas still experience problems with tooth decay among young children.
“Tooth decay is a preventable disease, which can be very painful and even result in a child having teeth removed under general anaesthetic, which is stressful for children and parents alike.
“Thankfully, tooth decay in children can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle whereby parents and carers reduce the amount of sugary foods and drinks they give their children and support them to brush their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, especially just before bedtime.
“It is also important for children to visit the dentist as soon as their first teeth erupt. This is free of charge for children and the dentist will be able to advise on how to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy.”'