Action is needed to tackle inequalities in oral health among children, according to dentists.

New data shows P1 children from the most deprived areas experience more than four times the level of tooth decay compared to their counterparts in the least deprived areas.

The British Dental Association (BDA) said Scotland is at a “turning point” in oral health due to the lack of check-ups during the pandemic.

A report from the national dental inspection programme found 71% of P1 children were free from tooth decay in 2019-20, up 3% from the previous year.

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In the most deprived areas 58.1% of P1 pupils had avoided decay compared with 86.9% in the most affluent areas.

The BDA warned coronavirus restrictions and sugar-rich diets during lockdown mean inequalities have likely persisted.

Robert Donald, chairman of the BDA’s Scottish council, said: “Covid risks undoing decades of progress in improving the dental health of our children.

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“Dentistry in Scotland is at a turning point. Routine check-ups remain off the cards for most families, our public health programmes are struggling and high street practices face a deeply uncertain future.

“The oral health gap between rich and poor – which has proved so stubborn – will widen unless we see real commitment from the Scottish Government.”