A BOROUGH has returned to the top of England's league of shame for child tooth decay.

Blackburn with Darwen now has 51 per cent of its five-year-olds suffering from rotting mouths, a council report reveals.

In 2018 it had dropped to seventh in the league table with a child tooth decay rate of 42.6 per cent.

But now that fall has reversed with the proportion of five-year-olds suffering from the complaint back to where it was 13 years ago.

The grim statistics are revealed in a new Blackburn with Darwen draft Oral Health Strategy 2021/22 due to be debated by the borough's Executive Board in September.

Cllr Kevin Connor, the health spokesman for the council Conservative Group said: "These figures are shocking and shameful.

"This problem has gone on for far too long. I hope the new strategy makes a difference and it needs to be targeted at schools and parents.

"We also need better access to dentists for children."

The new strategy reveals: "Blackburn with Darwen borough has the highest proportion of its five-year-olds experiencing decay, in the whole of England. 51 per cent of five-year-olds have at least one decayed missing or filled teeth.

"It also has the second highest rate for hospital admissions for tooth decay for nought to five-year-olds in the North West. This can be a dangerous procedure as it must be under a general anaesthetic.

"The borough has the same proportion of five-year-olds experiencing decay as thirteen years ago. Poor oral health can affect the ability of children to sleep, eat, speak, play and socialise with other children.

"Other impacts include pain, infections, poor diet, and impaired nutrition and growth which affect the ability of the child to learn, thrive and develop."

The strategy recommends steps including: oral health training for the professional workforce in health and education; the integration of oral health into targeted home visits by health and social workers;. targeted community-based fluoride varnish programmes; targeted provision of toothbrushes and toothpaste; supervised tooth brushing in childhood settings; healthy food and drink policies in childhood settings; and the fluoridation of public water supplies.

Dominic Harrison, Blackburn with Darwen Council's public health director, said: “We are working with local partners to explore what local action can be taken to improve children’s oral health in our borough."

He added:“We are in the consultation stage of developing a local oral health improvement strategy, so we are seeking views to help inform priorities for the action plan.”

The draft strategy also calls for better communication to break down mistrust, misunderstanding and language barriers with ethnic minority residents.