Tooth decay is reducing in five-year-olds in England Photo by Alex on Unsplash

Public Health England (PHE) publishes oral health survey of 5-year-olds 2017

The levels of tooth decay in 5-year-old children are continuing on a steady decline. This is according to data published by Public Health England (PHE).

The figures reveal 23.3% of 5-year-olds in England had decayed, missing or filled teeth in 2017, down from 30.9% in 2008.

There is a larger difference between the two local authorities that cover Marston Vale.

  • Central Beds: 17.7%
  • Bedford Borough: 31.3%

Dr Sandra White, Dental Lead for Public Health England, said:

“It’s encouraging to see dental decay declining across England, however, almost a quarter of 5-year-olds are still suffering from this preventable condition.

“Children in our most deprived communities continue to be hit the hardest – we need more local authorities using targeted interventions to reduce these inequalities.”

Days off school

Tooth decay causes pain and discomfort, which can result in problems eating, sleeping, socialising and attending school.

PHE figures released in April showed that over 60,000 days a year are missed from school due to hospital tooth extractions.

The risk of tooth decay is increased by consuming sugary foods and drinks and not brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

PHE recommends a number of proven interventions to help local authorities improve dental health in their communities.

These include:

  • Supervised brushing
  • Provision of free toothbrushes and paste
  • Community fluoride varnish schemes
  • Water fluoridation

Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) has a range of initiatives to reduce tooth decay including:

  • Targeting areas with a higher prevalence for tooth decay by incorporating a supervised tooth-brushing programme into early years settings, primary and special schools
  • Providing all foster carers in Central Bedfordshire Council with oral health training
  • Giving guidance to early year’s settings and schools on healthy eating and how it encourages good dental health
  • Providing oral health information to parents and carers through schools and where they can access local dental services
  • Delivering community water fluoridation in some parts of Central Bedfordshire

A spokesperson for CBC said:

“A combination of what we are doing locally and the national impact of introducing a sugar tax has contributed to encouraging more people to have better dental health.”


A Borough Council spokesperson said:

“Bedford Borough Council has a range of initiatives to prevent tooth decay which include supervised tooth-brushing programmes in early years settings, primary schools and special schools in areas with higher levels of tooth decay; giving all foster carers in Bedford Borough access to oral health training; giving guidance to early years settings and schools on healthy eating and how it encourages good dental health; and providing oral health information to parent and carers through schools.

“The Council continually reviews the effectiveness of its services, and these initiatives will be considered in light of the latest tooth decay data.”