More than a quarter of five-year-olds have tooth decay

Details from the new survey and our top tips for looking after milk teeth


More than a quarter of five-year-olds have tooth decay.


The new survey by Public Health England suggests that 27% of all five-year-olds have tooth decay.

Things have improved since 2008 when 30% of five-year-olds surveyed suffered from tooth decay but, The British Dental Association (BDA) says, there’s still a “deep chasm” between the best and worst areas.

The statistics ranged from 34.8% of five-year-olds in the north-west and 21.2% in the south-east.

Taking a closer look, the worst area was Leicester, with 53.2% and Brighton and Hove had the lowest percentage affected at 12.5%.

It’s never too early to start looking after your child’s teeth.

Here are our top five tips for looking after milk teeth :

  1. You can start cleaning milk teeth as soon as they appear – wrap a small clean piece of cloth around your finger and rub it gently over each tooth.
  2. As more teeth come through, you may prefer to switch to a soft toothbrush. Apply a dab of age-specific toothpaste and move the brush gently over the teeth to remove any plaque. The Department of Health recommends a smear of toothpaste for children up to 3 years, and a pea size amount for children 3-6 years.
  3. All children up to 3-years-old should use a toothpaste with a fluoride level of at least 1000 ppm (parts per million) up to around 1350 ppm. You can check the level of fluoride on the packaging of the toothpaste. After brushing, encourage children to spit the toothpaste out.
  4. As your child gets older, give them more responsibility for cleaning their own teeth each morning and evening with children’s toothpaste. However, brushing should be supervised until your child is at least 6-years-old. 
  5. Prevent decay by limiting sugary foods or drinks to meal-times only. It’s not just the amount of sugary foods that do the damage, but how often they are consumed. It’s worth remembering that some processed foods can contain a lot of sugar so be sure to check the label.

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