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Tooth decay hits deprived children

A third of the most deprived three-year-olds living in Scotland's biggest city have tooth decay, a new study has claimed.

Researchers also found that a quarter of all three-year-olds examined in the Greater Glasgow area had some form of tooth decay.

The report by the University of Glasgow's Dental School noted that, on average, the poorest children had one-and-a-half teeth that had been filled, were decayed or missing.

In comparison, the researchers found that the least deprived three-year-olds in the city were missing a third of a tooth on average.

The study, which took place between 2006 and 2008, looked at the dental health of 4,000 three-year-olds in the Greater Glasgow area, and has now been published in the British Dental Journal.

Researchers used the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, which uses factors like income, housing, education and employment, to assess the level of deprivation for each child.

Andrew Lamb, British Dental Association director for Scotland, said: "While there has been a significant improvement in the nation's oral health over the past 40 years, this study highlights the depressing fact that poor dental health and inequality are closely linked from very early in life.

"Given that tooth decay is totally preventable, it's unacceptable that social deprivation is still such a strong marker of poor dental health.

"This study reinforces the importance of providing support to children from deprived communities soon after they are born.

"As adult oral health can be predicted by childhood dental health, this targeted intervention is vital to closing the gap in oral health inequalities."

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