Dentists urging schools to go sugar-free in a bid to tackle tooth decay

Dentists are urging schools to go sugar-free [Photo: Getty]

Dentists are calling for the government to encourage all schools to go sugar-free in a bid to tackle tooth decay in children.

They say it is vital schools act to cut sugar in their meals in order to tackle the condition, which affects a quarter of five-year-olds.

Dental surgeons also want more supervised teeth-brushing in schools and guidelines on healthy packed lunches provided to help parents choose sugar-less options.

The rules have been drawn up by the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons.

Recommendations could see teachers checking pupils’ lunch boxes and confiscating sugary treats and banning sugar on site except those found naturally in fruit and vegetables.

FDS chiefs are also backing a government green paper, which wants to see teachers advise and help pupils brush their teeth.

READ MORE: Easy ways to cut your child's sugar consumption in 2019

According to tooth decay is the most common oral disease affecting children and young people in England, yet it is largely preventable if kids eat less sugar, brush twice daily and have yearly check-ups.

The oral health survey of 5 year olds in 2017 revealed that although oral health is improving in England, just under a quarter have tooth decay.

Almost 9 out of 10 hospital tooth extractions among children aged 0 to 5 years are due to preventable tooth decay and tooth extraction is still the most common hospital procedure in 6 to 10 year olds, according to the National Dental Epidemiology Programme for England (PHE).

The FDS says as well as being painful it can impact on children’s ability to sleep, socialise and concentrate in class.

What’s more the problem is leading to children having to skip school with 60,000 days being missed for hospital extractions alone.

Dentists want teachers to help children with brushing their teeth[Photo: Getty]

READ MORE: Have we been brushing our teeth all wrong?

Commenting on the new guidelines prof Michael Escudier, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, 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."

He added: "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."

According to the NHS tooth decay is damage to a tooth caused by dental plaque turning sugars into acid.

If plaque is allowed to build up, it can lead to problems, such as holes in the teeth (dental caries) and gum disease.

There is also a risk of dental abscesses, which are collections of pus at the end of the teeth or in the gums.