According to a survey published this week, Leicester has the highest levels of tooth decay among three-year-olds in the country, with a shocking 34% of children in the age group estimated to have at least three decayed teeth. The survey, carried out by NHS England labelled this problem ‘early childhood caries’ which is thought to be related to sugary drinks in bottles and sipping cups.
The research looked at 373 out of 4,901 three-year-olds in the city. Dr Jasmine Murphy, specialist in dental public health for Leicester City Council, called the results ‘a stark reminder of the benefits of brushing our children’s teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, limiting their consumption of sugary foods and drinks and taking them regularly to the dentist from an early age.’
The city has already allocated £490,000 to the council to try and deal with the problem but health officials admitted that there is ‘no quick fix’. Councillor Rory Palmer, deputy mayor and chairman of the health and wellbeing board for Leicester City, said that the figures represented a ‘significant concern’ and said that ‘it will require a long-term and determined effort’ to try and deal with the high percentage of children suffering with decay. He added that 15,000 free toothbrushes will be distributed to nurseries, schools, food banks, dental practices, and homeless hostels next year, saying that this should start when children are six months old, again at their first birthday, and then ‘at yearly intervals until they start school.’