Health chiefs in Southampton have released shocking new pictures of children’s rotten teeth in a bid to improve the city’s oral health care.
In one of the images, the tiny mouth of a three-year-old child is filled with blackened stumps of decaying and diseased teeth.
Dentists say distressing sights like these, which highlight the extent of the problem in the city, are becoming more and more frequent.
With nearly half of all Southampton’s youngsters experiencing tooth decay by the age of five, they argue drastic action must be taken now – or the problem will get worse still.
It is this alarmingly high number of infants with rotten teeth that is driving moves to add fluoride to the city’s tap water.
Health chiefs say Southampton has a depressing record when it comes to children’s dental health, but high-profile schemes to educate parents have failed.
With the message about regular brushing simply not getting through, they now want to see water fluorinated in a last-ditch bid to improve the state of the city’s teeth.
Campaigns in the city have included handing out toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste to under-sixes, promoting healthy eating, improving access to dental care and daily brushing schemes in nurseries.
But there has been no improvement – in spite of the extensive dental health promotion activities carried out by the PCT oral health team – particularly in more deprived areas, so now Southampton City Primary Care Trust (PCT) wants to take more drastic action in a bid to improve the state of the city’s oral health.
The PCT is behind the scheme to add fluoride to the water of two-thirds of the city – around 160,000 residents, as well as a further 36,000 people in Eastleigh, Totton and Netley.