NEARLY 40 per cent of five-year-old children in Bradford have tooth decay, according to latest figures from Public Health England.

The statistics, from last year’s oral health survey of five-year-olds, reveal 39.8 per cent of children that age had tooth decay and, on average, 1.8 decayed, missing or filled teeth.

Analysis from the British Dental Association (BDA) says this is a rise from 37 per cent at the last survey and places Bradford as 11th for worst childhood decay rates in England.

The PHE report reveals “wide variation” between regions - with children from more deprived backgrounds more likely to experience decay.

“Analysis shows that, while dental decay levels are reducing, and there are signs that inequalities are beginning to reduce, the inequalities gap remains unacceptably high,” the authors wrote.

The BDA has urged local and national government to not ignore the “crisis” in children’s oral health.

Tooth decay, while wholly preventable, remains the number one reason for child hospital admissions in England. In 2016-17, more than 400 children in Bradford had rotten teeth extracted due to dental decay.

In the Bradford district, the Building Brighter Smiles programme includes fluoride varnish applications, advice on how to brush babies’ teeth, healthy eating for pre-school aged children, as well as tooth brushing support in primary schools.

BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said: “It’s a tragedy that a child’s oral health is still determined by their postcode and their parents’ incomes.

“We should not accept that a child born in Bradford will enter primary school with eighteen times the levels of decay as one born in the Surrey home of the Health Secretary. Sadly while cavities are almost wholly preventable, official indifference means this inequality gap shows little sign of narrowing.

“The NHS will keep spending millions extracting baby teeth in overstretched hospitals until policymakers step up and grasp the nettle.”

Bradford Council has said oral health will continue to remain a "high priority".

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: "It is important that children in Bradford get the best start in life and that includes making sure they have healthy teeth. Improving the oral health of children in the district is a key public health priority that we share with NHS England, dental practices, Public Health England and the Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care, added: “Tooth decay is an entirely preventable disease – that’s why we’re determined to make sure all children get the right access and support to achieve good oral hygiene, whatever their background or where they live. Last year a record 6.9 million children were seen by a dentist, almost 60 per cent of the total population and an increase of 110,000 on the previous year.”