Adding fluoride to Doncaster’s drinking water is being considered to tackle high levels of poor oral hygiene.
A report seen by councillors, council directors and NHS bosses show three and a half per cent of all five to nine-year-olds have had at least one tooth removed due to severe decay. The national average is 0.7 per cent.
Dr Rupert Suckling, director of public health at Doncaster Council, told attendees at a meeting on Wednesday this equated to 1,100 hospital procedures - the highest in South Yorkshire.
The Doncaster Oral Health Assessment Report said children and adults in the borough experience some of the ‘poorest oral health in the country.
It added children in the most deprived areas of the city had average tooth decay levels around ‘three times higher’ than those living in the least deprived areas.
On average, latest figures show Doncaster’s five-year-olds have four teeth which are decayed.
Dr Suckling said these rates were down in part to low levels of breastfeeding and children consuming sugary drinks.
Figures showing the average number of decayed, missing and filled teeth among five-year-old children in Yorkshire and The Humber by local authority put Doncaster at 1.1 - only behind Bradford, Hull and Wakefield.
Studies show areas with fluoridated water have a lower level of tooth decay than those that don’t. Bosses are looking into the prospect of rolling it out.
Dr Suckling said: “It might be worth looking further at the process of fluoridation for Doncaster’s drinking water. The figures for every £1 spent returns over £12 after five years.
“This is already being looked at in Hull and Barnsley at the moment.”
Doncaster adults fair better going to the dentist than their South Yorkshire neighbours. Figures show 69 per cent saw a dentist in the last 24 months - the highest in the county and well above the England average of 51 per cent.
Dr Suckling added: “Schemes are in place to encourage brushing in children such as Mole-R mole going into nurseries and schools. We find if you get into the habit early on at nursery age than it makes a massive difference moving forward.
But the council health boss said brushing at nurseries had some opposition from parents.
“We’ve heard anecdotally that some parents don’t want their kids to be brushing because it’s distressing for their child,” he said.
New nurseries and schools are also now being invited to set up clubs with 12 new schools joining up in March 2018, with over 1,300 children taking part.
A scheme is also being considered to target certain areas by providing free toothbrushes and toothpaste.