Dental health of South Yorkshire children is improving, survey shows

STOCK pic of child brushing teeth

STOCK pic of child brushing teeth

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South Yorkshire children have healthier teeth now than four years ago, according to research.

Public Health England found 28.5 per cent of five-year-olds in Yorkshire and the Humber had tooth decay, missing or filled teeth - down from 33.6 per cent at in 2012 and 38.7 per cent in 2008.

In Sheffield the figure was 31.4 per cent, down from 35.8 in 2012; in Rotherham it was 28.9, down from 40.4; in Doncaster 31 down from 33.6; and Barnsley 30.2, down from 41 per cent.

The news comes weeks after the Health and Social Care Information Centre found Sheffield children had the worst teeth in Britain.

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Head of nutrition for Sheffield’s Children’s Food Trust Dr Patricia Mucavele OBE said: “Today’s results are encouraging – a big part of this is about improving children’s diet from their earliest years to prevent damage to their teeth, so it’s good to see the figures moving in the right direction. But many children are still experiencing tooth decay even before they’ve turned five, so there’s still a lot of work to do.

“At the moment, toddlers are having more sugar than they should be and it’s one of the biggest threats to their nutrition. Getting children to eat and drink far less sugar is an enormous task, and we will need to do much more to help parents make this happen.”

Dr Mucavele said national guidelines on food in childcare were a good foundation for better dental health. But she called on food manufacturers and retailers to make the amount of sugar in products clearer.

“It’s a part of our food culture that feels specifically designed to bamboozle,” she said.

“Parents really want better information about the foods they choose for their children, and that shouldn’t mean having to study detailed nutritional information on packets. That’s why we think food labels need to be even clearer and more consistent, particularly on products aimed at children.

“We’d like to see colour-coded nutrition labelling on all products, clear information about what makes a portion size for a child and an end to adverts for sugary foods and drinks during family TV shows and online.”

Dr Mucavele said healthier food should be ‘affordable for everyone’.

“Giving families better cooking skills and the confidence to cook from scratch is an untapped well of potential to cut sugar in under-fives’ diets, as a way to reduce our reliance on processed foods and save money when food budgets are tight,” she added.

Nationally, the number of five-year-olds with tooth decay has dropped to its lowest level in almost a decade; just under 25 per cent.