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FDS welcomes inclusion of oral health in Early Years Foundation Stage Reforms as a ‘good first step’.

03 Jul 2020

The Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons of England today welcomes the Government’s commitment to include education of oral health in its reforms to the early years foundation stage (EYFS) statutory framework1.

The FDS submitted evidence to the Department for Education earlier this year, calling for a requirement on promoting good oral health to be included as part of its Safeguarding and Welfare reforms.

Child tooth decay represents a major public health issue, with 1 in 5 children in England experiencing tooth decay at the age of five3. This has a significant impact on young children’s overall health and wellbeing due to increased difficulties eating and sleeping because of oral pain and discomfort. This in turn leads to difficulty in concentrating and so affects their education. They can experience bullying as a result of the appearance of their teeth, as well as being at an increased risk of disease in their adult teeth. Tooth decay is also the leading cause of hospital admissions amongst five to nine year olds by some distance – there were 25,702 such admissions in 2018-194.

In its evidence, the FDS also repeated its calls for supervised tooth brushing in schools as there is significant evidence, notably from Scotland and Wales, that such initiatives are effective in improving children’s oral health. However, the government state that individual settings and schools will be able to determine how the requirement to promote good oral health is met. Last year’s Prevention Green Paper announced that the Government will consult on extending the provision of supervised tooth brushing programmes in England.

Mr Matthew Garrett, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England said:

“The FDS has long campaigned about the impact of poor oral health on children, and called for the inclusion of oral health in the early years curriculum. This new requirement to promote good oral health is fantastic news for children across England. While we would have liked to see supervised tooth brushing schemes mandated, this is a good first step in improving children’s oral health.”

“During the pandemic, dental services have rightly functioned differently to take the pressure off the NHS and save lives. This has meant that routine check-ups - where dental problems are often first spotted - have been paused, making this commitment to oral health in education settings more important than ever.”

“In advance of children’s return to schools in September, there is a growing awareness of children’s wellbeing and how education plays a role in promoting health. Early years providers have had to think holistically about the health and welfare of children, and the Faculty is pleased the government recognises that good oral health plays a vital role in achieving that.”


Notes to editors

1. The Early Years Foundation Stage Reforms Government consultation response July 2020 can be found online at:

2. The Department for Education states in the response that:
“The early years foundation stage (EYFS) statutory framework is mandatory for all early years settings… It sets the standards that schools and early years providers must meet to ensure that children are taught and develop well, and are kept healthy and safe from birth to age 5.”  Schools will be able to adopt the final EYFS reforms in September 2020, followed by statutory national implementation from September 2021.

3. Evidence published by Public Health England suggests that more than 1 in 5 children age 5 have experienced tooth decay with one or more teeth being extracted or filled:

4. NHS Digital’s Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity, 2018-19:

5. The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care:

6. For more information, please contact the RCS Press Office:

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