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Dentists call for tooth-brushing lessons for kids as new figures reveal 60,000 school days are lost due to tooth extractions every year

06 Apr 2018

Dentists are calling for some of the revenue from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy introduced today (6 April) to be used to teach children about oral health as new figures reveal 60,000 school days are lost each year because children are admitted to hospital to have teeth removed. Tooth extraction is the most common reason for hospital admittance in children and a child has a tooth removed every 10 minutes, according to data released by Public Health England (PHE) today.

Commenting on the latest PHE figures, Professor Michael Escudier, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

“These latest PHE figures are disappointing as tooth decay is 90% preventable by eating less sugar, brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and visiting the dentist regularly. We would like to see some of the money raised by the Soft Drinks Industry Levy go towards improving oral health education. In particular, we would like supervised tooth brushing sessions introduced in nurseries, primary schools and breakfast clubs across England. 

“Sugary snacks and drinks remain a principal cause of tooth decay. Schools can do their part to tackle the scourge of high sugar products like cakes and non-fruit based desserts by making sure they are taken off the lunchtime menu.  As well as causing tooth problems sugar is responsible for an obesity and diabetes epidemic that costs the NHS millions of pounds. 

“Parents and carers, food and drinks manufacturers and advertisers, the Government, public health bodies, dentists and schools all have a part to play. It’s up to everyone to do their bit to stop the rot and to keep children smiling brighter, and for longer.” 

Notes to editors

1. 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.

2. A feasibility report commissioned by Public Health England on “Delivering Supervised Toothbrushing for Two, Three and Four Year Olds in Early Years Settings” was published in December 2016, and found that introducing such schemes is “easily manageable” with low cost implications:

3. For more information, please contact the Press Office:

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