Getting to the root of tooth decay problem in Hartlepool

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HEALTH bosses in Hartlepool say they won’t be complacent when it comes to tackling tooth decay in children.

Hartlepool has the second lowest level of tooth decay in three-year-olds when compared with the rest of the North-East, according to a new report.

New figures show 10.1 per cent of three-year-olds in the region suffer from visible tooth decay, according to figures published by Public Health England.

The national average for England is 11.7 per cent, but it is less than half that in Hartlepool.

The percentage of three-year-olds examined in Hartlepool who had visible tooth decay was just 4.7 per cent.

Health chiefs say they are not complacent and are always looking for ways to improve the oral health of youngsters.

Louise Wallace, director of Public Health for Hartlepool, said: “We are not complacent and we are always looking to further improve the oral health of children in Hartlepool. It is important to remember that tooth decay in children is a usually preventable disease that can be very painful.

“Parents can take a number of small and simple steps to help protect their children from tooth decay.

“In particular, reducing the amount of sugary food and drink in a child’s diet and brushing teeth twice daily using a fluoride toothpaste can make a big difference.”

Youngsters were examined in their nursery, children’s centre or playgroup for the first national study of the oral health of this age group.

There was a dramatic variation of tooth decay prevalence across the country and in the North East this ranged from 4 per cent in North Tyneside to 18.4 per cent in Sunderland.

Dr Roberta Marshall, director of PHE’s North East Centre, said: “This reflects trends of significant improvements in dental health since the introduction of fluoride toothpaste in 1976.

“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 an entirely preventable disease that can be painful - and even result in teeth being 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 and guidance from parents and carers.”