FIGURES have shown nearly a fifth of children have decayed, missing or filled teeth.
Public Health England (PHE) is encouraging dentists to work with parents as data shows 18 per cent of five-year-olds in Portsmouth have problems with their teeth.
This is higher than the average for Hampshire which was 15 per cent.
Using its Change4Life campaign, PHE is hoping to see children consume less sugary snacks and not only improve their body but the condition of their teeth.
Dentists from across the area are backing the campaign.
Phil Gowers, from Gowers Dental Surgery in Southsea, said: ‘It is great to have this opportunity to raise awareness of the simple, achievable things every family can do to improve dental health in children.
‘It is not just childhood obesity that too much sugar leads to. I am often shocked at what I come across in my dentist’s chair – far too much decay and too many fillings in those far too young.
‘It is very sad when teeth have to be removed in children, sometimes in hospital under a general anaesthetic.
‘Sometimes adult teeth have to be removed which will be permanent loss.
‘Being sugar smart – swapping out sugar for healthier food and drink choices – is a vital step in the fight against cavities.
‘Another is to visit the dentist regularly and we recommend parents bring their children in from the moment their teeth start coming through – so at around six months.
‘It is so important to make it a priority and introduce good toothbrushing and eating habits early – after which they will hopefully last a lifetime.
NHS dental treatment is free for everyone under 18, and for mothers from the time they become pregnant to when their baby turns one-year-old.