05 May

Dentists back new guidelines for healthy packed lunches in a bid to stem rising rates of decay

Dental organisations have backed plans for new guidelines for packed lunches in a bid to stem rising rates of decay among children. 

Representatives from the Faculty of Dental Surgeons (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons of England have advised schools to take steps to lower sugar consumption significantly. Dentists are also supporting supervised teeth cleaning sessions for younger children. 

Data confirms that dental decay is the most common cause of hospital admissions among UK children, despite the fact that the vast majority of cases could be prevented. One of the most significant causes of tooth decay and premature tooth loss is a diet rich in sugary foods and drinks. 

Members of the British Dental Association (BDA) have also backed measures to improve nutrition and lower rates of decay and obesity in schools, with a spokesperson suggesting that there “was no place” for sugary drinks and foods in schools. 

Mr Matthew Garrett, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said that tooth decay is “almost completely preventable” through limiting sugar intake, practising good oral hygiene and attending frequent dental check-ups. The link between sugar consumption and decay is clear to see and this is why the FDS is supporting measures to limit sugar intake in schools. Mr Garrett suggested that the government should encourage schools to go sugar-free and put an end to unhealthy meals and snacking on sugary foods by improving the quality of school dinners and issuing guidelines for packed lunches made at home. 

Eddie Crouch, chair of the BDA, said that children should not be consuming “food and drink loaded with free sugars” and urged the government to implement sugar-free schools policies. Mr Crouch suggested that nobody would lose out if schools went sugar-free. Children would be less likely to develop dental issues and health problems linked to obesity and the NHS would save money on treatments like tooth extraction.