Schools should implement a “sugar-free” program to do the best for students, senior dentists have said.
The Faculty of Dentists (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons in England has offered its support for the publication of nutritional guidelines for packed lunches.
It has also put its weight behind supervised toothbrushing sessions in schools.
Leading dentists with the British Dental Association said sugary foods and drinks “have no place in our schools” due to concerns about tooth decay and increasing obesity in children.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, tooth decay was the main reason children between the ages of five and nine were hospitalized in England, according to FDS.
Numbers suggest that a significant proportion of children have not seen a dentist since the coronavirus pandemic began – despite the NHS recommendation that children should see a dentist at least once a year for a check-up.
NHS dentist visit figures released in February show that 70% of children in England did not see an NHS dentist in the 12 months ended December 31, 2020, according to the FDS.
Sweets are often given out in playgrounds by students to mark birthdays, with students in some cases even being given sweets from teachers as end-of-school treats.
School dessert desserts containing sugar or packed lunches with a high sugar content are also an issue.
Mr. Matthew Garrett, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in England, told PA News Agency: “Tooth decay can be prevented almost entirely by reducing the frequency of sugary snacks and beverages and by regularly using fluoride toothpaste and brushing Routine visits to the dentist.
“In a year where visits to dentists have been disrupted by the pandemic, it is even more important that we take steps to protect children’s teeth at home and at school.
“There is a clear correlation between the frequency with which we consume sugar and the amount of tooth decay we suffer from.
“FDS believes that reducing the availability of surgical food and drink in schools is essential in reducing the frequency with which our children consume sugar.
“Tooth decay is not only stressful in itself, it can also have far-reaching consequences for children, e. B. sleeping, eating, socializing and the risk of acute sepsis.
“Toothache caused by tooth decay can adversely affect school performance, reduce children’s focus in class, and may require time off for dental appointments. In the worst case scenario, children with untreated tooth decay may have to have multiple teeth out under general anesthesia.
“We want the government to 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 brushing sessions in schools.”
British Dental Association Chairman Eddie Crouch added, “There is absolutely no place for food and drink laden with free sugar in our schools.
“The government must show the courage of its beliefs in prevention.
“These are products that have little to no nutritional value.
“Nobody would lose from a sugar-free school policy, except irresponsible elements of the food industry.”
The latest figures from the National Program for Measuring Childhood show that more than one in five (23%) children in the intake are overweight or obese.
For children starting secondary school, it is 35%.
A report published in March by Public Health England detailing the oral health of five-year-olds in England in 2019 shows that almost a quarter (23.4%) had signs of tooth decay.
And analysis of official data from the Local Government Association, released last August, suggests that 45,000 hospital surgeries were performed in England in 2018/19 to remove rotten teeth in children and adolescents – the equivalent of 177 per day.
A government spokesman said a healthy meal could “have a real impact on a child’s development,” adding that schools in England must adhere to school food standards aimed at providing a balanced diet for children, sugary drinks, chips, Prohibit chocolate and sweets and limit fried food to two servings a week.
These standards apply to community schools and academies established before 2010 or after June 2014, as per government guidelines.
The spokesman added, “We are investing £ 38 million in breakfast clubs in thousands of schools through the donation of the soft drink industry.
“We have doubled our elementary school sports and sports bonus and our expanded vacation activity and nutrition program will result in thousands of young people receiving healthy food during the school holidays this year.”