Nearly one in 10 of Tayside’s youngest schoolchildren has serious problems with their teeth, new figures reveal.
A shocking 335 P1 pupils in the area required “immediate dental care on account of severe decay or abscess” in 2017-18.
The scale of rotting teeth among Dundee, Perthshire and Angus five-year-olds was revealed in school checks by the national dental inspection programme.
Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said the gap in dental health between rich and poor appears to be widening.
“Tayside is facing serious challenges when it comes to dental care,” he said. “The Scottish Government needs to fill in the gaps and help every health board meet their treatment targets.”
About 9% of P1 pupils inspected in Tayside were found to have serious decay and abscess issues that triggered the sending of “A letters” to parents advising urgent action.
It was the second worst rate in the country after Glasgow and Clyde (10%), while the national average is 7%.
In Fife, 120 children were the subject of such letters – 5% of all those inspected.
Parents receiving “A letters” “should seek immediate dental care on account of severe decay or abscess”.
“B letters”, which were sent to the homes of 22% of P1 children in Tayside, urge parents to take their children to the dentist in the “near future”.
Morag Curnow, Tayside’s clinical dental director, said all nurseries and some primary schools have brushing programmes in place and that will be extended this year.
“It is concerning that we have more children in P1 with serious decay than comparable areas in Scotland,” she said.
“However, we know that the overall dental health of children in Tayside continues to improve in line with national trends.”
In Scotland, the average number of decayed, missing or filled teeth was 0.45 for children in the most affluent areas, but 1.92 in the poorest.
A total of 16,814 pupils were included in the survey between November 2017 and June this year.
Overall the dental health of Scotland’s P1 pupils is better, with 71% (Tayside: 69.9%; Fife: 71.9%) showing no obvious signs of tooth decay in the 2017-18 study, compared with 58% a decade earlier.