A survey of dental health at two north London schools found that more than a third of pupils had untreated tooth decay.

The Hampstead-based Dental Wellness Trust carried out screenings at Mora Primary School in Cricklewood and and Islamia Primary School in Queen's Park.

Of 332 children screened, 38% had active untreated cavitated caries in their primary teeth.

In the children that had untreated tooth decay, an average of 3.6 teeth per child were affected.

Only 42 children had a filling on their primary teeth – just 12% of children at those schools.

Untreated tooth decay was particularly prevalent in children between the age of 5 and 10 years old, with boys more likely to be affected.

Dr Linda Greenwall, founder of the Dental Wellness Trust, said: "This situation is set to get even worse following the pandemic, dental practices being forced to close and children consuming food and drinks packed with excessive sugar.

"Many are now suffering agonising pain, cannot sleep at night or concentrate at school and end up missing classes – in addition to emergency dental appointments for antibiotics and extractions. Evidence show that delays in preventative care could result in children developing more tooth decay, especially when it starts in childhood, and this is the strongest indicator of risk into adulthood.

“From the work that we do, we know that national strategies such as oral health prevention and toothbrushing programmes in schools and nurseries is one way of supporting this long overdue 'prevention better than cure' ethos and we call on the Government and local authorities for more urgent funding and support."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Improving patient access to NHS dental care is a government priority and the new reforms to the dental contract announced last month will allow the best-performing practices to see more patients.

“This includes making better use of the range of professionals working in the sector such as dental therapists, hygienists and nurses, while also rewarding dentists more fairly for providing more complex care.

“The NHS commits around £3 billion to dentistry each year and has made available an extra £50 million to help tackle the Covid backlogs”.