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A recent survey of school nurses and dentists warned that children’s health, including oral health, is deteriorating due to hunger. The overwhelming majority (94%) of respondents from the School and Public Health Nurses Association, and the British Dental Association, backed extending free school meals to all primary school aged children.

More than six out of 10 child health practitioners have said that hunger and poor nutrition is leading to a deterioration in children’s health, including oral health. The survey also found children are suffering more tooth decay due to unhealthy diets.

Starkly, 78% of respondents said they had encountered children’s teeth decaying or being damaged at a higher rate than usual.

At the moment there are nearly four million children living in poverty, and Teeth Team backs the calls to Government to take action before children’s health deteriorates further under the cost-of-living crisis. The Scottish and Welsh governments are introducing universal free school meals and we support the call for England to do the same.

Speaking nationally, Eddie Crouch, Chair of the British Dental Association, said: “Our kids are born into a toxic food environment, and dentists see the results every single day.

“Tooth decay is the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children, and bad diets are fuelling it.

“Free School Meals is a simple step that would put prevention to work in every school in this country.”


Teeth Team is a school-based supervised tooth-brushing programme, incorporating clinical dental assessments, applications of fluoride varnish and the subsequent signposting for accessing primary and secondary dental care. It is a collaborative working partnership between local dental practices, government, schools, and parents in an effort to improve the dental health of children predominantly across Hull, East Riding, Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire and Nottingham.