MORE than a quarter of children starting primary school in Oxford have suffered from tooth decay.

A Public Health England survey of 269 five-year-olds in Oxford found tooth decay in 28 per cent of children in the 2018-19 academic year.

The latest population estimates from the Office for National Statistics show there are 1,761 five-year-olds in the area, meaning 490 may be suffering with dental problems.

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Oxford's rate in 2018-19 was higher than that across the rest of the South East, with 18 per cent of five-year-olds in the region having tooth decay – either present at the time of an exam, or evident because of missing or filled teeth.

Affected children in Oxford often had widespread problems, with multiple teeth showing signs of decay.

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

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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 one per cent of 210 surveyed youngsters.

Of the children surveyed in Oxford, 10 (four per cent) had to have a tooth out – suggesting that around 69 children in Oxford had required an extraction, aged five or younger. This normally requires a hospital visit.

With hospital tooth extractions for children aged five and under costing £836 on average in the UK, extractions in Oxford may have cost the NHS around £57,700 in 2018-19.