AROUND one in ten children starting primary school in Bromsgrove have suffered from tooth decay, figures show.

A Public Health England survey of 653 five-year-olds in Bromsgrove found tooth decay in 10% of children in the 2018-19 academic year.

The latest population estimates from the Office for National Statistics show there are 1,138 five-year-olds in the area, meaning around 110 may be suffering with dental problems.

However, the figures for the district are much lower than both the regional and national average of 23%.

Across the West Midlands, almost one in four five-year-olds in the region experienced tooth decay – either present at the time of the dental exam, or evident because of missing or filled teeth.

Nationally, 18,400 five-year-olds (23%) had tooth decay, and more than 1,700 children had teeth extracted.

Blackburn with Darwen, in Lancashire, had the highest rate in the country with 51% of children surveyed having evidence of decay.

At the other end of the scale, Hastings, in East Sussex, had the lowest rate with just 1% of 210 surveyed youngsters showing signs of tooth decay.

The British Dental Association warned that "grotesque" health inequalities among children in different areas of the country are set to widen as they lose out on free check-ups and school meals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid the Covid-19 outbreak, NHS England has urged dental practices to stop routine, non-urgent care until further notice, meaning five-year-olds across the country will miss out on routine check-ups in the coming weeks.

Mick Armstrong, chairman of the British Dental Association, said: "With free check-ups and school meals off the menu these grotesque inequalities among our children look set to widen.

“In the 21st century we shouldn’t accept that the oral health gap between children from wealthier and more deprived communities is inevitable.

“England has tried and tested policies to hand. Ministers must not let this service or the prevention agenda end up as casualties of this pandemic.”

In a report, Public Health England said dental decay among young children "remains an important public health issue."

"It leads to pain and distress, sleepless nights for children and parents, and time off school and work," the report added. "Dental decay is largely a preventable disease.

"Further work to improve oral health and reduce inequalities is needed as nearly a quarter of five-year-olds had experience of dental decay, and the inequalities gap remains unacceptably high."