NHS bosses will be asked to explain what they are doing to address Bradford's growing tooth decay problem, a health board meeting heard.

The district's under-fives have the worst dental health in the Yorkshire region, if not the country, a meeting of Bradford's Health and Wellbeing Board heard yesterday.

And the board was told the problem had grown markedly since dentistry services became the responsibility of NHS England.

Board chairman, Bradford Council leader Councillor David Green, said: "It's becoming a bigger and bigger problem that I am growing increasingly concerned about."

Cllr Green said he had had a number of dentists through his doors who were "basically at their wits' end because of the pressure on them".

He said he was particularly worried at the "number of people, particularly children, presenting at A&E with really quite serious oral infections as a result of the lack of dental care".

He added: "I don't know whether that's in part down to not going to the dentist or whether it's an increasing difficulty in getting into a dental service, which is also true, as I know from personal experience."

Director of public health Anita Parkin said something had to be done.

She said: "We have got the worst dental health in under-fives, certainly in Yorkshire and the Humber, if not the country.

"We can't say it's because people don't do this, that or the other."

And Andrew Jones, manager of patients' group Healthwatch Bradford and District, said it was often the most disadvantaged people who were affected the most.

He said: "The biggest enquiry issue that Healthwatch gets is about NHS dentistry. That's nothing new, but dental care and oral health have a huge inequalities element to it."

The meeting heard a few years ago a major co-ordinated campaign to improve dental health had been making significant progress locally.

But then in April last year there was a major national restructure of health services, which meant that NHS England was given the role of commissioning dental services.

Cllr Green said he would like to invite someone from NHS England to a future meeting, to "explain how they are going to provide a co-ordinated service in Bradford".

The board also agreed it wanted to do what it could in areas such as education to improve the situation.