PRIMARY schools are being offered the opportunity to help fight tooth decay after it was revealed that 30 per cent of Barnsley’s five-year-old children have dental issues.

Barnsley Council’s children’s public health team are offering funded and supervised toothbrushing clubs to local primary schools and early years settings such as family hubs to help form good oral health habits at a young age.

This comes as a response to a 17 per cent national increase of decay-related tooth extractions in hospitals for zero to 19 year olds, compared to the previous figures from the financial year of 2021 to 2022.

Yorkshire and Humber has some of the highest rates in the country, with 405 per 100,000 population of zero to 19 year olds receiving decay-related extractions, compared to rate in the rest of England of 236 per 100,000.

It is believed that this reflects the recovery of hospital services following the Covid-19 pandemic.

These new local clubs will help children learn proper techniques clubs will have designated supervisors who will fill in checklists for each term to make sure things are running smoothly, and staff will be supported with training and a toolkit to properly set the club up.

Parents will be asked to give consent for their child to take part in the clubs.

Coun Wendy Cain, cabinet spokesperson for public health and communities, said: “A healthy mouth and smile mean we can eat, speak and socialise without pain and discomfort.

“However, almost 30 per cent of five year olds in Barnsley have tooth decay.

“Poor oral health can lead to pain and infection, resulting in sleepless nights, difficulty eating and time off nursery or school.

“Tooth decay is preventable and the supervised clubs will be effective in reducing tooth decay.”

MP for Barnsley East Stephanie Peacock and MP for Barnsley Central Dan Jarvis said in a joint statement: “The high rate of tooth decay amongst young children in our town is incredibly alarming and it is now the number one reason that children between six and ten are admitted to hospital.

“People in Barnsley have found it increasingly difficult to access dental services for a number of years, and it is welcome that Barnsley Council are taking action by opening clubs to help children learn how to brush their teeth.

“However, the government must take responsibility for the decline in services and act quickly to ensure that all those who need a dental appointment get one.

“A Labour government has a plan to rescue NHS dentistry and will create an additional 700,000 urgent and emergency appointments and put in place supervised toothbrushing for early years children to help prevent childhood dental issues.

“The government should adopt Labour’s plan to ensure that our children have the care and support they need without having to be rushed to A and E because they can’t see a dentist.”