Edge browser users:
To download Word, Excel or PowerPoint files please right-click on the file you wish to download, and select 'Save link as...'


We are leading on calls for radical action to lower the nation's sugar intake, with measures ranging from lowering the recommended daily allowance, through to action on marketing, labelling, and sales taxes, and supervised tooth brushing schemes for younger children, all to help prevent tooth decay.

Tooth decay is now the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children. 


170 children and teenagers in England are undergoing tooth extractions under general anaesthesia in hospitals in England every day. 

Official data has revealed an 18% increase in the number of extractions taking place on children in hospitals since 2012, costing the NHS £205 million.

What are we doing about protecting children's teeth?


We've added our voice to the Action on Sugar, Action on Salt, campaign to urge Government action on all the outstanding recommendations previously committed to in the Childhood Obesity Plan

We are campaigning for action on elements in the Childhood Obesity Plan that relate to improving oral health, including extending the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (the ‘sugar tax’) to milk-based drinks that are often very high in sugar, delivering on restrictions on the marketing and advertising of junk food, improved front-of-pack nutrition labelling, implementing the agreed ban on the sale of energy drinks to children, and reducing sugar in the nine PHE target food categories, plus infants food and drinks.

We continue to urge government and local authorities to step up in the fight against tooth decay through cost-effective programmes such as supervised brushing in nurseries. 

Estimates from the Local Government Association suggest HMRC have amassed over £300m in revenues.


We believe that less than 2% of current revenues would be enough to bring supervised brushing programmes to 5-year-old children in the greatest need.


To date, no levy revenue has been earmarked to combat tooth decay.


Top tips for dental patients

One of the most important messages that dentists can give to patients is to remember that it is not just the amount of sugar you eat or drink that causes tooth decay, but also how often you have those sugary foods and drinks.


  • Quitting fizzy drinks: Fizzy drinks are the largest single source of sugar consumption for children aged 11-18, and they provide an average of 29% of daily sugar intake - cutting them out for a month is an easy way to reduce sugar intake and to help encourage a reduced intake for the rest of the year, by switching to healthier alternatives.
  • Sugar-free fizz is still bad for teeth: The fizz in sugar-free drinks is still acidic, and can cause tooth erosion, so it's much better to switch to tooth-friendly alternatives like water, milk, or a small serving of fruit juice - but this is best consumed with a meal, to avoid the erosive acidity of the fruit juice. 
  • Reduce sugary snacks: the risk of developing tooth decay increases as the amount and frequency of sugar consumption rises.
  • Brush twice a day: keeping teeth clean by regular brushing helps prevent decay. Children's brushing should be supervised until the age of seven. Ask your dentist for more advice.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste: all children up to three years old should use a toothpaste with a fluoride level of at least 1000ppm, both morning and night. From three to six years old, their toothpaste should contain more than 1000ppm. For children six years and older, the recommended amount is between 1350ppm-1500ppm.
  • Visit the dentist on a regular basis: ask your dentist how often you should visit and keep your appointments, if oral health problems are spotted early, then they can often be dealt with much easier. Your dentist can answer any questions you have about the best way to look after your child's teeth.
  • Watch out for 'hidden' sugars: pure fruit juices can be a healthy choice, but the natural sugars these contain can still damage teeth. If you are offering fruit juice, drink it with a meal and only in a small glass (up to 150ml).

What is the BDA doing on sugar and oral health?

We have been leading on calls for radical action to lower the nation's sugar intake, with measures ranging from lowering the recommended daily allowance, through to action on marketing, labelling, and sales taxes, to prevent tooth decay.


When it comes to oral health, we believe in prevention first: tooth decay is an avoidable disease and we are campaigning for Government's to take this problem seriously, to act now and invest in real prevention.


BDA Northern Ireland continues to highlight the ‘lost’ sugar tax money and the need for it to be channelled in to long term preventative oral health measures.


Help us share the message and best practice


Useful resources for dental professionals

Keeping up-to-date

​If you'd like to be kept informed about developments on this issue, make sure your details are up-to-date on your MyBDA record and tick the box under 'contact preferences' to get latest news updates.


Working for you

The BDA campaigns on a range of issues affecting dentists and dentistry today. We make sure that dentists' views are represented when it comes to health policy being developed by government and other key organisations: join us.