Children in Worcestershire have got plenty to smile about after coming out near the top of the national dental league.
The county’s children finished in fifth place in the league, and can expect to experience less tooth decay during their lives than youngsters from almost anywhere else in the country.
Nearly 200,000 children in 119 health authorities across England, Scotland and Wales had their mouths closely examined by experts, who counted teeth which were decayed, had to be extracted or filled.
The figures released show that as many as 76 per cent of the county’s five-year-olds are completely free from tooth decay.
The West Midlands dental health promotion group believes Worcestershire’s secret recipe for healthy teeth is fluoridated water.
“It proves yet again the value of fluoridated water in fighting tooth decay,” said Alan McMichael, Worcestershire Health Authority’s consultant in dental public health.
“Compared with children of the same age in Herefordshire, where people don’t have the protection which fluoridation gives, five-year-olds in Worcestershire have a significantly lower chance of waking up in the middle of the night with raging toothache and a swollen face, or needing to be put to sleep with a general anaesthetic for a badly decayed tooth to be extracted.”
Herefordshire, which is non-fluoridated, came 69th in the league.
In Britain, around 5.5m people drink fluoridated water, of whom 3.8m live in the West Midlands.