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Dentists urge schools to go sugar-free

15 Aug 2019
Dentists are calling for the government in England to encourage all schools to go sugar-free in a bid to combat tooth decay.

They say it is essential to cut sugar in school meals to tackle a condition affecting a quarter of five-year-olds.

Dentists also want more supervised teeth-brushing in schools and guidelines on healthy packed lunches.

Before leaving Downing Street, Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans to improve children's oral health and her government produced a green paper on tackling the causes of preventable ill health.

But the Faculty of Dental Surgery says that while progress has been made, more needs to be done.

Tooth decay is the leading cause of hospital admissions among five-to-nine-year-olds over the last three years, its report says.

Yet figures show that 41% of under-18s didn't visit an NHS dentist last year. 

And the figure is 77% among children aged between one and two, despite guidance that all children should see a dentist at least once a year.

The faculty has produced a report containing 12 recommendations to try to cut down on cases of tooth decay. 

These include:

  • all schools in England to introduce supervised teeth-brushing schemes, as exist in Scotland and Wales, before 2022
  • all schools to become "sugar-free"
  • extending the soft-drinks levy to include sugary dairy drinks
  • limiting advertising and promotions for high-sugar products
  • reducing the sugar content of commercial baby foods

The Faculty of Dental Surgery said a campaign to remind people how often to take their children to a dentist, and the availability of free NHS dental care, was needed.