EAST Lancashire boroughs rank among the highest in the country for five-year-old children who have decaying teeth.

But Blackburn with Darwen has seen a significant drop in the number of children with rotting teeth in the past decade.

The borough still ranks as the seventh worse for five-year-olds with tooth decay in the country

Pendle, Burnley and Hyndburn also all make it among the top ten worst in England for child tooth decay rates.

The figures, branded a ‘tragedy’, were revealed in Public Health England’s latest Child Oral Health Survey.

Data for 2017 shows Pendle has the highest percentage of children with decayed, missing or filled teeth in the country at 49.4 per cent.

While Burnley ‘s figure is 46.5 per cent, Hyndburn’s is 45.8 per cent and Blackburn with Darwen has a child tooth decay rate of 42.6 per cent.

It means that East Lancashire’s boroughs have rates of about double the national average of 23.3 per cent.

Since 2007, Pendle, Burnley and Hyndburn have also seen child tooth decay rates get worse, although Blackburn with Darwen has improved from 56 per cent in 2007.

Hyndburn’s health chief Cllr Munsif Dad said the lack of extra fluoride in Lancashire water supplies had contributed to the figure.

He said: “Levels of fluoride in water supplies definitely need looking at.

“I think it’s also about raising awareness to parents of the importance of keeping their child’s teeth healthy by eating less sugar food and drinks.

“These figures are alarming.”

Dominic Harrison, director of public health at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said sugar consumption can have a 'devastating effect' on dental health.

He said: "It is vital that we send a message about the damage that is being done to the health of our children and young people; let children be free to choose their food but stop promoting sugar products through advertising and sports sponsorship in a way that makes their choices anything but ‘free’."

Mick Armstrong, chairman of dentist trade union the British Dental Association, described it as a ‘tragedy’ that a child’s oral health is still determined by their postcode and their parents’ incomes.

He said: “We should not accept that a child raised in Pendle will enter primary school with twenty times the levels of decay as one born in the Surrey home of the health secretary.”

Melanie Catleugh, consultant in dental public health in Lancashire said: “The 5-year-old’s dental health survey results show that, compared to 2015, in some parts of the North West, young children’s dental health is improving and levels of tooth decay are falling.

“We are delighted to see a marked improvement in Blackpool and also encouraging results in Blackburn with Darwen, although we recognise there is still more to do.”