Almost a third of five-year-olds in Northamptonshire have tooth decay, according to a new report.
A study of 133,000 youngsters by Public Health England (PHE) published today showed 27 per cent of children aged five have tooth decay, with on average between three and four teeth affected by decay, treated or untreated.
In Northamptonshire 30.3 per cent have tooth decay although there are large variations of rates withing the county.
In Corby, the highest rate in the county, it is 38.8 per cent, in East Northamptonshire it is 28.2 per cent, in Kettering 29.6 per cent, and in Wellingborough it is 32.5 per cent.
Elsewhere in the county there are 25.5 per cent of five-year-olds in Daventry with tooth decay, 30.5 per cent in Northampton and 19.2 per cent on South Northamptonshire.
Children in the north or poorer areas had significantly worse oral health, the report found.
The British Dental Association said the variations showed a “chasm of inequality” in the oral health of youngsters.
The survey, compiled in 2012, is the second national survey undertaken from the previous one in 2008.
Four-year trends show overall improvements in decay and its severity in young children, PHE said.
Overall tooth decay in five-year-olds has reduced from 30.9 per cent to 27.9 per cent and the proportion of children with untreated decay has reduced from 27.5 per cent to 24.5 per cent.
Health Minister Lord Howe said: “We know more work is needed to make sure good oral health is more consistent right across the country.
“Every child should have the opportunity to grow up with a healthy smile.
“However, we have some of the lowest decay rates in the world and more than 70 per cent of children in England are completely free of tooth decay.”
Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at PHE, said: “This latest survey shows the numbers of five-year-olds free from tooth decay have improved but there is still much to do, dental decay is preventable.
“Parents should brush their children’s teeth for at least two minutes twice a day, once just before bedtime and at least one other time during the day.
“Also supervise tooth brushing until your child is seven or eight years old, either by brushing their teeth yourself or, if they brush their own teeth, by watching how they do it.”