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Three-Year-Old Children Suffering Tooth Decay

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11:17am 30th September 2014
(Updated 11:17am 30th September 2014)

More than one in ten Cornish children suffer from tooth decay at the age of three, health officials have warned.

The finding comes after Public Health England carried out the first national survey of the oral health of three-year-olds.

Professor Debra Lapthorne, from Public Health England in Cornwall said: “Thankfully, tooth decay in children can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle; by parents and carers reducing the amount of sugary foods and drinks they give their children and supporting them to brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, especially just before bedtime.

“It is also important to take your child to the dentist, which is free of charge for children, as the dentist will be able to advise you about how to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy.”

The survey found that in some parts of the country as many as a third of kids have bad teeth.

Experts examined the teeth of more than 50,000 children at their nursery, children's centre or playgroup during 2012/13.

The four regions with the highest levels of tooth decay were the East Midlands, the North West, London and Yorkshire and the Humber.

Poor oral hygiene among children was most prevalent in Leicester where the figure was 34% - compared to just 2% in south Gloucestershire.

PHE says parents should reduce the amount of sugary foods and drinks they give to their children.

They should also make sure they brush their teeth twice a day, including just before bed, with fluoride toothpaste, and only use sugar-free medicines.

Sandra White, director of dental public health for PHE, said there have been "significant improvements" in the nation's oral health in recent years, although some areas are still experiencing problems.

"Thankfully, tooth decay in children can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle," she said.

"It is also important to take your child to the dentist ... as the dentist will be able to advise you about how to keep your child's teeth and gums healthy."

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: "The stark regional inequalities are a cause for concern.

"They highlight a clear need for water fluoridation to help tackle these differences, particularly in the more deprived areas of the country."

Experts say breast feeding provides the best nutrition for babies, while the the best drinks for young children aged 1 to 2 are full fat milk and water.

From 2 years old, semi-skimmed milk and water are recommended, as long as they are a good eater.

11:17am 30th September 2014

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