Schools should become sugar-free to tackle the growing problem of child tooth decay, leading dental surgeons have said.
The call comes after analysis by the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) showed there were more than 100,000 hospital admissions for children under the age of 10 in England due to tooth decay over a three-year period.
The FDS has recommended tooth brushing schemes to be put in place before 2022, to mitigate the risk of tooth decay in the future.
Professor Michael Escudier, Dean of the FDS at the RCS, said: “It is incredibly worrying that levels of tooth decay among children in England remain so high – especially when you consider that it is almost entirely preventable through simple steps such as brushing twice a day with appropriate strength fluoride toothpaste, visiting the dentist regularly, and reducing sugar consumption.
“The FDS believes that limiting the availability of surgery foods and drinks in schools is essential to reducing the amount of sugar our children consume.
“While the Government has committed to reviewing school food standards, we would like to see them go beyond this to encourage all schools in England to become sugar- free.
“We would also support the publication of nutritional guidelines for packed lunches.
“The scourge of child dental decay cannot be allowed to continue.
“Everyone needs to play their part in ensuring our children have healthy, happy teeth."
Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Judith Jolly said: “Much more needs to be done to improve the health of children across the UK.
“It is the responsibility of grown-ups, not children, to give everyone the healthiest start in life.
“With a bit more encouragement and support, it would not be difficult for schools to change out fizzy drinks for water, or bananas instead of biscuits.”
However, British Dental Association chair Mick Armstrong has said it will take more than “warm words”to improve childrens’ oral health.
“It’s a scandal that tooth decay remains the number one reason for child hospital admissions,” he said.
“We will not see real progress until ministers start going further and faster on prevention.”