HUNDREDS of children in York and North Yorkshire are undergoing hospital treatment for dental problems, new figures have shown.

Statistics released by Public Health England (PHE) show 1,566 children under the age of five were treated in North Yorkshire and the North-East over a three-year period, between 2009 to 2012, or ten every week. In North Yorkshire, 291 under-fives per 100,000 were admitted to hospital for tooth extractions under general anaesthetic, while in York 431 children, per 100,000 population, were admitted.

The figures show this happens less in North Yorkshire than in areas like Newcastle and Sunderland, where one milligram of fluoride is added to every litre of tap water, in an effort to reduce tooth decay.

Following the release of the figures, Public Health England has made a fresh call for fluoride to be added to tap water across the country.

A PHE spokesman said: “There are a number of factors which explain the variation in hospital admissions for dental caries in children.

“But evidence suggests that fluoridating water is the single most effective step we can take to reduce tooth decay generally, both among children and adults, irrespective of personal behaviour.”

The figures do not include children who have teeth removed by dentists, but include infections caused by eating sugary food and not brushing properly.