Intended for healthcare professionals


More health warnings on food are needed to reduce tooth decay, says BMA

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 16 May 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2177
  1. Jacqui Thornton
  1. London

Almost a quarter of 5 year olds in England have tooth decay, and those from deprived backgrounds are the worst affected, a survey has found, prompting new calls for health warnings on food packaging.

Almost half of the 539 children examined from eastern European backgrounds had obvious caries, compared with around a fifth of those described as white or as black/black British.

Public Health England’s oral health survey 2017 involved clinical examinations of over 96 000 children aged 5 to determine the prevalence and severity of tooth decay.1 At that age children normally have 20 primary teeth.

Among the 23.3% of children with some experience of obvious decay the average number of teeth that were decayed, missing, or filled was 3.4. The corresponding average in the whole sample, including …

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