Skip to content

Significant improvement in city children’s dental health

Published on Monday, May 21, 2018

NEW figures issued by Public Health England show a significant reduction in the number of five-year-olds in Leicester with tooth decay.

The figures show a 15% reduction in tooth decay from 2011/12 to 2016/17. The percentage of five-year olds with decay has reduced from 53.2% to 38.7%.

There has been a significant improvement in the proportion of five year-olds that are decay-free, going up from 47% to 61% in this period.

Leicester city council’s public health team has worked hard to reduce children’s tooth decay through its Healthy Teeth, Happy Smiles programme, which encourages parents to take an active role in protecting their children’s oral health.

The programme aims to promote good oral health from birth, with initiatives including a free bottle-swap system, where parents can swap baby bottles for a free-flow cup at the city’s children’s centres. This can help to prevent tooth decay, which can be caused by prolonged bottle-feeding.

There are also free supervised tooth-brushing sessions in nurseries, with more than 75% of all nurseries in the city taking part. And all under-fives get free toothbrushes, toothpaste and brushing charts from their health visitor.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on public health, said: “Tooth decay is largely preventable and can be a serious health issue. It causes pain and discomfort for children that can easily be avoided.

"We launched our Healthy Teeth, Happy Smiles initiative in 2014 with the aim of reducing tooth decay in under-fives by 10%, by 2019.

“These new figures show that we have well exceeded this target, which is excellent news.

“We have made a long-term commitment to tackling levels of tooth decay because we know this is what is required. There are still major challenges ahead, but these figures show we are moving in the right direction.”

The figures have been released during National Smile Month, when events are going on across the city to help improve children’s oral health.

To find out more about National Smile Month and Leicester's oral health improvement programme, visit