ONE in ten three-year-olds in Southampton suffer from tooth decay.

New research, published today, has revealed the number of three-year-olds with decaying teeth across the UK.

Twelve per cent of three-year-olds across England have decaying teeth, according to a new Public Health England (PHE) survey.

That has led to warnings from health officials that many parents are giving their children too many sugary foods and drinks.

PHE's report revealed that in Hampshire 4.6 per cent of children surveyed in 2013 have tooth decay - the lowest rate in the South East - in comparison to 10.5 per cent in Southampton.

The highest rate in the country was in Leicester where 34 per cent of youngsters had tooth decay, while the highest rate in the South East was in Slough, where 25.7 per cent suffered from it.

Officials also said that some children had a particular type of decay known as early childhood caries. This affects the upper front teeth and spreads quickly to other teeth. It is linked to the consumption of sugary drinks in baby bottles or sipping cups.

PHE said that parents should reduce both the amount and how often sugary foods and drinks are given to their children and also urged them not to add sugar to weaning foods or drinks.

Parents and carers should also start brushing children's teeth as soon as the first tooth appears and supervise their tooth brushing until they are seven or eight years old, the health body added. Children's teeth should be brushed twice daily, including just before bed, using a fluoride toothpaste.

PHE also advised parents to only use sugar-free medicines.

Sandra White, director of dental public health at PHE, said that in recent years there had been ''significant improvements'' in the nation's oral health - with the majority of children having no decay at all - but she said that some areas still experience problems with tooth decay.

''Tooth decay is an entirely preventable disease, which can be very painful and even result in a child having teeth removed under general anaesthetic, which is stressful for children and parents alike,'' she said.

''Thankfully, tooth decay in children can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle; by parents and carers reducing the amount of sugary foods and drinks they give their children and supporting them to brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, especially just before bedtime.

''It is also important to take your child to the dentist, which is free of charge for children, as the dentist will be able to advise you about how to keep your child's teeth and gums healthy.''