Child tooth decay in Sunderland is almost double the national average, it has been revealed.
Sunderland City Council’s director of public health said it was “appalling” that it affected 40% of five-year-olds.
Gillian Gibson told councillors it was a “serious problem” linked to health inequalities.
Her report to the council said child tooth decay in the city was significantly higher than the England average of 24.8%.
“Although our concerns about dental health are about the whole population, we’re particularly concerned about children,” she said.
The survey of 141 children aged five in 2014-15 also showed 4.8% had need to have at least one tooth removed and 8.3% had suffered a dental abscess, compared to England averages of 2.5% and 1.4% respectively.
The abscess statistic had left dental colleagues “shocked”, Ms Gibson said.
The council’s public health team said it was working on an action plan to tackle poor oral health.
Councillors were told artificial water fluoridation could help improve oral health and that neighbouring Durham County Council was exploring the idea.
Sunderland has been invited to take part in the feasibility study.