MORE than 1,250 youngsters in East Lancashire had to have decayed teeth pulled out in hospital in 2012/2013, new figures have revealed.

This was a fall on the previous 12 months total for under 19s across Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Pendle, Hyndburn, Rossendale and Ribble Valley who required dental surgery.

The statistics from Public Health England also reveal that incidence of serious tooth decay in under-fives across the six boroughs has also fallen.

Blackburn MP Jack Straw welcomed the improving figures for dental health but repeated his warning against introducing fluoridation of water to further tackle the problem.

The latest figures for dental decay in under-fives and for tooth extractions undertaken in hospital as too difficult for dentists paints an improving, but still poor picture.

The biggest changes were in Blackburn with Darwen, once the worst borough for child dental health in England.

In 2012/2013 438 under 19s had teeth removed by surgeons, down from 466 in the previous year.

Since 2007/2008 the proportion of under fives with serious decay has fallen from 51.1 per cent to 41.1 per cent in 2011/2012.

Over the same period Burnley’s figure has fallen from 43.5 per cent to 41.8; Pendle’s from 46.9 to 44.7; Rossendale’s from 36.5 to 31.1; Hyndburn’s from 45.9 to 41.8; and Ribble Valley’s from 25 to 19.8.

All East Lancashire boroughs saw a fall in surgical dental extractions in the latest year on year statistics.

The number of under 19s in Burnley who faced hospital tooth removal in 2012/2013 was 239 down from 291 in 2011/2012; for Pendle the figures were 147 and 182; In Rossendale 138 and 166; Hyndburn 230 and 269; and in Ribble Valley 67 and 81.

Mr Straw said: “These figures are good news. They show that an extension in NHS dental provision and improvements in dental health advice and practice for parents and children works.

“There is still a lot to be done but I am still opposed to mass medication through fluoridation of the water supply.”

Almost 500 schoolchildren in the UK are admitted to hospital for dental surgery each week.