Nearly a third of five-year-olds in Kirklees area have had tooth decay

Nearly a third of children starting primary school in Kirklees have suffered from tooth decay, figures show.

By Ian Hirst
Sunday, 26th April 2020, 7:00 am
Patient in a dentist chair
Patient in a dentist chair

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 307 five-year-olds in Kirklees found tooth decay in 31 per cent of children in the 2018-19 academic year.

The latest population estimates from the Office for National Statistics show there are 5,832 five-year-olds in the area, meaning 1,820 may be suffering with dental problems.

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Kirklees’s rate in 2018-19 was higher than that across the rest of Yorkshire and The Humber, with 29 per cent of five-year-olds in the region experiencing tooth decay – either present at the time of the dental exam, or evident because of missing or filled teeth.

Affected children in Kirklees often had widespread issues, with multiple teeth affected showing signs of decay.

Of the children that were surveyed, 11 (four per cent) had to have a tooth out – suggesting that around 209 children in Kirklees had required an extraction, aged five or younger. As high-street dentists are unable to administer a general anaesthetic, this normally requires a hospital visit.

Mick Armstrong, chairman of the British Dental Association, said: “With free check-ups and school meals off the menu these grotesque inequalities among our children look set to widen. In the 21st century we shouldn’t accept that the oral health gap between children from wealthier and more deprived communities is inevitable.”

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