The British Dental Association (BDA) is calling for a sugar tax to be introduced to “make up for the critical shortfall in the budget for NHS dentistry”.
Speaking at the 2015 Conference of Local Dental Committees in London, chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee (GDPC) Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen said a lack of funding is causing “a considerable mismatch” between the demand for NHS treatments and the ability dentists have to be able to deliver this care.
According to Mr Overgaard-Nielsen, funding means that just over half the population (56 per cent) in England can be seen by dentists every two years. He said a sugar tax would enable more people to be treated on the NHS.
He said the widespread availability of cheap sugary foods and drinks is not only damaging the nation’s oral health, but it is also expanding their waistline. This is especially worrying where young people are concerned, with one in eight of all three year olds having tooth decay.
“A tax on sugar – the source of most tooth decay – would provide vital funding needed to treat disease now and invest in a prevention programme to ensure everyone benefits from good dental health,” Mr Overgaard-Nielsen said.
He added that the government wants to focus on preventive care when it comes to oral health, but there is not enough funding to treat the current levels of disease, let alone prevent diseases of the future.
The chair of the GDPC also highlighted concerns about the Department of Health’s decision to not remove discredited activity targets in the proposed remodelling of the dental contract that is underway.
This announcement makes the BDA the latest organisation to call for stricter guidelines on sugar. Action on Sugar and the British Dental Health Foundation have already asked the government to make changes to reduce sugar intake.