A report carried out for Devon Council shows that tooth decay amongst children in the area is five times the national average.

According to ITV News, “More than 3,500 people in Torbay are on a waiting list to see an NHS dentist, nearly 500 of them children.”

Some children below primary school age cannot eat due to their teeth, warned the report.

The report revealed, “Children with dental problems may have poorer diets due to dental pain, have higher levels of school absenteeism as well as impaired concentration due to pain and interrupted sleep.”

Compared with figures across the South-West of England, Torbay is the worst affected area.

It continued, “Those unable to afford private care are always those hit worst. Anecdotal reports from teams undertaking home visits in our poorer neighbourhoods, such as district nurses, health visiting teams and social workers, reflect a high number of directly related cases, including children under five unable to eat solid foods due to the poor state of their teeth.

“Having to attend A&E as a last recourse due to severe dental pain is not uncommon.”

There is “widespread dissatisfaction” with the current dental provisions, said the report, as 98 per cent of practices in the area are not accepting new NHS patients.

Devon Council is considering setting up a county-wide oral health steering group alongside other measures to improve access, including “children’s education and community dentistry for homeless people.”