British Medical Association calls for free toothbrushes for children under 5

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The British Medical Association has urged the government to consider new measures to reduce childhood decay, including the provision of free toothbrushes for children under the age of 5.

Doctors have warned that the country is in the grip of a “dental crisis” with more and more children requiring hospital treatment for dental conditions. In a bid to tackle rising rates of decay, the BMA believes that all children under 5 should be given a free toothbrush. The association has also urged government ministers to consider introducing cigarette-style packaging for sugary foods, which are aimed at children. Under new guidelines, treats that contain a lot of sugar would carry health warnings, as well as images such as those depicting rotten teeth.

After convening at the association’s annual conference, doctors expressed concerns about the prevalence of decay, with many saying that they were seeing more and more children with extensive decay at a young age.

Chair of the BMA’s public health committee, Dr Iain Kennedy, stated that more than 30,000 children under nine have had teeth extracted under general anaesthetic in the last two years. Of this number, 18,000 cases involved children under the age of 5. Dr Kennedy described the situation as “shocking.”

In addition to a new toothbrush scheme, the BMA has also appealed for compulsory dental hygiene lessons to be included in the curriculum for primary schools across the country.

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