New data highlights regional differences in decay rates among children

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New data has highlighted regional differences in rates of decay among young children.

Figures from the National Dental Epidemiology Programme show that rates of decay among 5-year-olds in some parts of the country are much higher than in other regions. The North West had the highest proportion of children with enamel or dentinal decay. Almost 40% of 5-year-olds in the area had signs of enamel wear or more serious tooth decay compared to 23.3% of children aged 5 in the South West.

As part of the study, five year old children from across England underwent oral health assessments. All of the children attended mainstream, state-funded schools. In Oldham and Bolton, around 7% of the population of 5-year-olds were assessed. The study revealed that nearly 40% of youngsters in the towns had minor or severe decay.

Rates of decay were significantly higher in the North West than across most parts of England. The national average rate of decay was 29.3% for enamel decay and 23.7% for dentinal decay, which affects the dentin layer beneath the protective enamel surface.

The British Dental Association (BDA) claims that the survey underlines regional differences and shows that gaps in oral health standards and dental equality are growing. The study collected data from approximately 9% of 5-year-olds in the country.

Chair of the BDA, Eddie Crouch, said that no action has been taken to close gaps between regions and improve dental health among children from deprived and poorer communities. He called for more measures and initiatives to target young children from areas where rates of decay are high, including water fluoridation, oral health education and programmes in schools and improved access to basic dental care.

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