The dental health of five-year-old children across Bradford is improving, but the district still has the fourth worst results nationally, according to a new health survey.

The research shows that the number of five-year-olds suffering from some degree of tooth decay has dropped from 52 per cent to 46 per cent in the district over the last five years, with the average number of teeth affected dropping from 2.42 to 1.98.

However, this figure remains the poorest in the region, higher than the 34 per cent average for Yorkshire and the Humber, and the national average of 27 per cent.

Swarngit Shahid, clinical director at Bradford District Care Trust, said: “Improving children’s oral health across Bradford remains challenging.

“Despite an overall improvement in the number of children free from tooth decay, we know more work needs to be done as Bradford children continue to have the poorest oral health in Yorkshire and the Humber.

“Research suggests there are clear links between levels of deprivation and poor oral health, and many of the factors that cause this also cause poor general health.”

Bradford District Care Trust’s dental team is working with other organisations to help improve the oral health of youngsters, including running a scheme called Building Brighter Smiles, that places an emphasis on disease prevention for children aged eight months to five years.

Elements of the scheme include a fluoride varnish programme, found to reduce tooth decay by up to a third in first teeth, healthy teeth awards, promoting nutrition and a sugar-free diet, and a toothbrushing in schools plan.

Dr Swarngit said: “For any significant change in oral health of five-year- old children, improvement programmes need to be in place from birth.

“Children participating in these initiatives have the potential to be free from tooth decay, and the programme builds stronger foundations for future oral health.”