CHILDREN in Blackburn with Darwen no longer have the worst teeth in England.

In 2021 51 per cent of five-year-olds in the borough had some form of tooth decay - the highest rate in the country.

But the latest figures from the National Dental Epidemiology Programme show this has fallen to 40 per cent.

This means the borough has fallen to fifth in the league of child tooth decay shame.

This follows Blackburn with Darwen Council launching a £120,000 a year Oral Health Improvement Strategy up to 2026.

The authority's public health boss Cllr Damian Talbot has hailed it success along with Conservative opposition group leader Cllr John Slater.

Cllr Talbot told Thursday's full Council Forum meeting: "It's almost a year since the strategy was launched and the statistics on oral health, particularly young people's oral health, in the borough were extremely poor.

"At that point Blackburn with Darwen had the worst oral health in England of children at five years old - 51 per cent having some form of tooth decay.

"There's been a huge amount of work done in the past year.

"New figures were released today.

"We have improved by 11 per cent so the numbers have fallen to 40 per cent which is still high but is a significant improvement, the biggest improvement in probably a decade in Blackburn with Darwen.

"So that's a major step forward.

"We're now the fifth worst in the country so we have huge hill to climb but it's a big step forward."

Cllr Slater said: "We all should be ashamed that we were the worst in the country.

"As a borough we have worked really hard on this and it is really, really pleasing to see.

"Yes it's baby steps but at least we're going in the right direction."

After meeting Cllr Talbot said: “The improvements in children’s oral health in the borough is really encouraging and shows all the hard work is paying off.

“Our work includes supervised tooth brushing in schools, targeted awareness-raising campaigns and the first group of Kind to Teeth Parent Champions, who help other parents with learning about the best way to brush teeth and take care of their child’s oral health.

“There is also the provision of toothbrushes and toothpaste and free-flowing cups to every child at their eight to12 month health visitor check.

"We know that we continue to face a major challenge on oral health, but I’m really pleased to see such significant progress after just one year. We will continue to work hard to maintain this progress."