FGDP(UK) has welcomed the inclusion of oral health in new statutory guidance on health education for schools in England.
The UK was recently ranked the lowest of 13 countries for providing oral health education in schools, but the new guidance will require that both primary and secondary school pupils are taught about dental health, including the benefits of good oral hygiene, dental flossing and regular dental check-ups, the characteristics of a poor diet, and the risks associated with unhealthy eating, including tooth decay.
Health education is not currently mandatory in England, but will become a statutory duty when the guidance takes effect in September 2020, and schools are being encouraged to implement the new guidance in full from this year. Oral health is likely to be taught as part of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PHSE) lessons, which already take place in most state-funded schools in England.
Roshni Karia, Vice-Dean of FGDP(UK) and the Faculty’s representative on Public Health England’s Children’s Oral Health Improvement Programme Board, commented:
“Many children and parents are still unsure about what good oral health looks like, and are unaware of its importance for general health. As dentists we only get the chance to provide this message to those that come to see us, but unfortunately up to a third of school-aged children don’t. So the inclusion of oral health in the school curriculum is fantastic news, and potentially a very significant moment in improving children’s oral health.”