Schools should hold supervised tooth-brushing sessions and make effort to go ‘sugar free’, dentists say
- Leading dentists urge schools to do more to reduce tooth decay in children
- They say schools should host supervised tooth-brushing sessions for pupils
- It comes amid concerns over tooth decay and rising levels of childhood obesity
Schools should hold supervised tooth-brushing sessions and ban sugary food to cut decay, say leading dentists.
They say schools should be doing more to go ‘sugar free’ and want nutritional guidelines for packed lunches to help parents send children to class with healthier meals.
The call, by the Faculty of Dental Surgeons at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, comes amid concerns over tooth decay and rising levels of childhood obesity.
Before the pandemic, dental decay was the top reason for children aged between five and nine to be admitted to hospital in England
Dentists want schools to take more of an active role in stopping the rot as pleas to parents to ensure their children brush properly at home have not been enough.
Before the pandemic, dental decay was the top reason for children aged between five and nine to be admitted to hospital in England.
And there are fears the problem could get worse because almost three-quarters have not seen a dentist since the start of last year, despite recommendations that children have annual check-ups.
Pain caused by decay can affect pupils’ concentration in lessons and require them to take time off for dental appointments.
At worst, children with untreated decay may need to have teeth taken out under general anaesthesia.
There are fears the problem could get worse because almost three-quarters have not seen a dentist since the start of last year, despite recommendations that children have annual check-ups
Matthew Garrett, dean of the faculty, said: ‘We would like to see the Government encourage all schools in England to become sugar free. We would also support the publication of nutritional guidelines for packed lunches and the introduction of supervised tooth-brushing sessions in schools.’
Sugary food and drink are also fuelling the childhood obesity crisis. The latest figures from the National Childhood Measurement Programme show almost a quarter of children in reception are overweight or obese.
This rises to 35 per cent among children who are starting secondary school.
Meanwhile, a Public Health England report published last month on the oral health of five-year-olds in England in 2019 found almost a quarter showed signs of dental decay.
Analysis of official data from the Local Government Association, published last August, suggests 45,000 hospital operations took place to remove rotten teeth in children and teenagers in England in 2018/19.
British Dental Association chairman Eddie Crouch said: ‘Food and drink loaded with free sugars have absolutely no place in our schools. The Government needs to show the courage of its convictions on prevention. These are products that have little to no nutritional value. No one would lose out from a sugar-free schools policy save irresponsible elements of the food industry.’