Dental guidelines branded a ‘cop-out’

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Children's dental health under the spotlight © makelessnoise/ CreativeCommons/ Flickr

Children’s dental health under the spotlight © makelessnoise/ CreativeCommons/ Flickr

A leading Liverpool academic has accused the government of a “cop-out” after children’s dental hygiene guidelines were released last week.

The new advice by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) urge schools to supervise children aged three to 11 when brushing their teeth for two minutes twice a day.

But Professor Simon Capewell, public health and policy expert at University of Liverpool, said: “This is not fair on teachers and it is a cop-out by NICE and by the government.

“The government has a duty of care to citizens, especially to children.

“The most effective interventions would be to tax sugary drinks and ban advertising of sugary drinks and junk foods.”

The academic recently spoke about his campaign towards tax on junk food, believing cans of fizzy drink should be hit with a 20p levy in an effort to cut the number of children with rotten teeth.

Levels of tooth decay have reduced over the past 40 years. Nonetheless, more than half of children living in the North West have had some dental disease. This is higher in more deprived communities and lower in affluent communities.

Dr. Sandra White, Director of Dental Public Health at Public Health England, believes this is a problem everyone should be tackling.

She said: “Oral health is everyone’s responsibility and by expanding oral health education to the wider community so that nurseries, children’s centres and primary schools all play a role we can reduce dental decay and ultimately improve the oral health of the local population.”

A study of 133,000 children by Public Health England (PHE) showed 27% of children aged five have tooth decay, with on average between three and four teeth affected by decay.

About Stephanie Bewley, JMU Journalism