FIVE year olds in Somerset have among the worst teeth in the South West, with almost one in four having decayed, missing or filled teeth.

Dentists are getting their teeth stuck into a campaign to reduce sugary drinks and snacks after Public Health England (PHE) figures showed 23.1 per cent of reception age children in Somerset had teeth problems. Regionally it's 21.7 per cent and nationally 24.7 per cent.

PHE is now working with dental teams in the South West to give sugar the brush off and help parents change the snacks they give their children.

To help fill in the gaps of people's sugar-busting knowledge, dentists are signing up to the Change4Life public health campaign which aims to cut sugar intake.

Dentists in Somerset are urging people to reduce the amount of sugar they have; brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste; and get regular dentist checks from an early age.

South West dentist Elise Helps said: "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.

"Being snack 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.

"Getting the most from your toothbrush is also important. Many new parents don't realise until we tell them that there are different amounts of fluoride recommended for different ages and it is important to spit, not rinse."

Top tips for parents include: *be snack smart; *avoid sugary food and drink before bedtime; *swap sugary drinks for sugar free, diet or no added sugar drinks; *four to six-year-olds should have no more than 19g of sugar a day, seven to 10-years-olds no more than 24g and over 11s no more than 30g; *don't replace sugary snacks with salty ones; *take children to the dentist when their first tooth starts to appear - NHS dental treatment is free for under 18.