Shocking figures have shown that one in three children who have yet to start school in Southampton has tooth decay, and the numbers are apparently on the rise – despite national averages dropping overall. According to the statistics, this makes Southampton the worst area for dental hygiene in the South East.
Health officials were planning to add fluoride to drinking water in a bid to improve dental health but the plans were scrapped eighteen months ago as the public rallied against the idea. Public Health England reversed the decision despite their assurances that the practice could help improve dental conditions in the poorer areas of Southampton and south west Hampshire. PHE is undecided about putting the plans back on the table after these latest statistics revealed that 33.7% of 1,155 four-year-olds showed obvious signs of tooth decay.
The results show an increase from 29.9% in 2012 and city councils are hoping that new initiatives to promote healthy dental habits could reduce the numbers in the coming year. Programmes such as Saving Smiles are being rolled out to pre-schools, day nurseries, and among childminders in the area, in an effort to educate carers, parents, and children about how to stop tooth decay from developing.