BSPD writes to new Secretary of State for Health & Social Care highlighting negative impact of sugar on children’s health, whilst urging against conflict-of-interest

At the start of Sugar Awareness Week (13–19 November 2023)[1], BSPD’s President, Professor Paula Waterhouse wrote to the new Secretary of State for Health & Social care to congratulate her on the new position, but also asking for the Government’s dental recovery plan. Specifically, BSPD would like to know that Rt. Hon. Victoria Atkins MP will support measures to reduce the sugar content in drinks and food marketed at children.  The Society also asked for reassurance that despite recent media reports about a possible conflict-of-interest (The Times 13.11.23 “Victoria Atkins: meet the new health secretary and her sugar boss husband”), that there is no risk of such a conflict. 

Professor Paula Waterhouse, BSPD President said: “We remain hopeful that the new Secretary of State for Health & Social Care will act on what is best for children’s health. In April 2023, the Conservative Party promised to share a dental recovery plan and we had hoped that there would be an announcement at the recent conference. However, our members still wait to hear what is planned to support children and young people’s oral health both in the immediate future – and long-term.

In the run-up to a potential general election we need clarity around the plans for oral health from all parties.  What we need to hear from Victoria Atkins MP, as a matter of urgency, is a serious plan that demands measurable outcomes, to grip the immediate crisis and set NHS dentistry on the path to recovery in the long-term.”

Please see the full press release (attached). Let me know if you would like any further information or quotes.


[1] Sugar Awareness Week 13-19 November 2023

BSPD’s ground-breaking dental neglect policy updated and published in IJPD

BSPD’s policy document on dental neglect in children, which was originally developed and published in 2009, has now been updated and published as an open-access paper in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry (IJPD).[1]  The original dental neglect policy followed Child Protection and the Dental Team, which was a significant document that first raised awareness in the UK of dental neglect, and was the point at which the urgent need for guidance for dental professionals was recognised.

Dental neglect policy updates:

Importantly the recommendations are broadly unchanged: at its heart remains the use of a three-tier model for responding to concerns. However, the new policy now reflects progress since 2009 in our understanding of dental neglect. An expanded section focuses on the broader impacts of dental disease. The update also includes references to examples of good practice that have developed over the intervening 14 years. The revised version is now written with the needs of both dental professionals and non-dental healthcare professionals in mind. The changes were made in response to feedback gathered via a focus group – and then modified further after consultation with stakeholders.

Why an up-to-date dental neglect policy matters:

Dental neglect may occur in isolation, or may be an indicator of a wider picture of neglect or abuse. Dental neglect may even be the first sign of child maltreatment. Dental professionals must know what to do if they are concerned about a child. Dental neglect is very common, so we are likely to encounter it frequently – indeed, a survey in 2016 showed that 62% of paediatric dentists come across children with neglected dentitions daily or more often. This was unchanged since the previous survey in 2005[2].

The team responsible for the dental neglect policy document update was led by Miss Lucy Ridsdale, who joined the original authorship team of Mrs Jenny Harris, Dr Richard Balmer and Professor Peter Sidebotham, together with new members Dr Fiona Gilchrist and, representing the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Dr Ruth Skelton.

BSPD continues to be committed to working with the dental profession and external stakeholders to raise awareness of dental neglect.  A link to the updated document is available on the BSPD website ( and it is also accessible in the IJPD  (

Dr Jenny Harris, BSPD Past-President said: “BSPD’s mission is to uphold the overall wellbeing of children and key to this is encouraging good safeguarding practice in dentistry.  Keeping our research and recommendations up to date is important to ensure that those working within the dental profession are well-informed about dental neglect and its significance as a flag to overall neglect. I am extremely grateful to the diligent team of colleagues who worked with me on this updated policy document as we all continue to campaign for a reduction in oral health inequalities.”


[1] Ridsdale L, Gilchrist F, Balmer RC, Skelton R, Sidebotham PD, Harris JC. British Society of Paediatric Dentistry: A policy document on dental neglect in children. International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry 2023. Early view.. doi:10.1111/ipd.13120

[2] Harris JC, Baker SR, Elcock C (2022). Paediatric dentists’ role in child protection practice: progress over time? International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry 32: 714–723. doi:10.1111/ipd.12950


BSPD advises members to discuss immunisation with patients in response to measles reports

Dentists will be asking about patients’ vaccination status anyway – as part of the routine medical history. The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) believes that this is the moment to ask specifically about MMR immunisation and recommends Dental Check by 1 (DCby1), as an ideal time to remind parents and carers to ensure their children’s immunisation records are up to date (DCby1 is BSPD’s campaign to get children into a dentist’s chair before their first birthday).

Measles is an infection that spreads very easily and can cause serious problems in some people. Having the MMR vaccine is the best way to prevent it. Good advice is to check if a child has measles which usually starts with cold-like symptoms, followed by sore red eyes, a fever and a rash a few days later. It’s very unlikely to be measles if an individual has had both doses of the MMR vaccine or had measles before. Parents should check their children are fully vaccinated with 2 MMR doses, which gives 99% life-long protection. Anyone not up-to-date with their MMR vaccines can catch-up through their GP practice whatever your age.  Achieving high vaccination coverage across the population, ‘herd immunity’, is important as it indirectly helps protect very young infants (under one) and other vulnerable groups.

Professor Paula Waterhouse, BSPD President said: “BSPD supports MECC and it makes sense for our members to take this opportunity to spread the message about the importance of vaccination.  We recommend paediatric dentists and GDPs seeing children – and their parents or carers – take this moment to discuss the MMR vaccine, which is free for all on the NHS. We recommend suggesting a parent or carer checks their child’s Red Book or contacts their GP practice or health visitor to arrange an appointment. We know that vaccines are our best defence against measles, which spreads very easily, but is preventable.”



Incoming BSPD President awards two Honorary Life Memberships

Two exceptional dentists, who have both left an indelible legacy on the specialty of paediatric dentistry, have been awarded Honorary Life Membership of BSPD. BSPD’s new President, Professor Paula Waterhouse awarded Professor Emerita Anne Maguire and Dr Ben Cole their Honorary Life Memberships at a celebration event during the BSPD Annual Scientific Conference 2023 in Newcastle – in view of their exceptional and wide-ranging services to paediatric dentistry.

Professor Emerita Anne Maguire became Clinical Professor in Preventive Dentistry in 2013 and on her retirement in 2020 was awarded an Emerita Professorship by Newcastle University. Anne has achieved notable contributions to the advancement of knowledge in paediatric dentistry via her clinical, scientific and education research. She has over 180 publications and over 3,600 citations with clinical research areas concentrating on the oral health of children, the effects of liquid oral medicines upon oral health, erosion and fluoride.

Professor Paula Waterhouse, BSPD President said: “Anne’s ability as an educator was rewarded with her becoming academic teaching lead for paediatrics at Newcastle University. She was involved in curriculum development particularly related to the introduction of outreach teaching in the university’s undergraduate degree programme. I learnt so much from working alongside her on this project.  She has contributed so much to advocating for paediatric dentistry in the UK and served as Honorary Membership Secretary for BSPD and Chair of the Teachers’ Branch during her career.  Her award of Honorary Life Membership of BSPD is richly deserved for her vast contribution to clinical academia and to the wider specialty.”

Professor Paula Waterhouse & Dr Ben Cole

Dr Ben Cole has been influential in the training of paediatric dental trainees and pivotal in the establishment of regional services for the improvement of children’s oral health in the northeast and Cumbria, setting up the region’s first oral medicine and gastroenterology multidisciplinary team; improving children’s clinical outcomes and quality of life. As  training programme director, he was instrumental in increasing both numbers of trainees and trainers in the region. In 2013 he became Clinical Director of the Dental Directorate at the Trust. Ben has supported BSPD in a number of roles including Honorary Secretary for BSPD and then President in 2012.

Professor Paula Waterhouse, BSPD President said: “I am delighted that Ben’s influence and advocacy in paediatric dentistry is recognised by this  award of Honorary Life Member of BSPD. Although Ben retired from clinical dentistry this year, he is still currently Associate Postgraduate Dental Dean Health Education England Northern Deanery. On a personal note, Ben has always been there if I needed clinical advice and support with our undergraduate curriculum – often going above and beyond! This award is in recognition of Ben’s diverse and varied career in paediatric dentistry.

“I am delighted that by honouring Anne and Ben, they will both remain part of the Society to which they have given so much.”

BSPD welcomes supervised toothbrushing plan targeting 20% most deprived children

Today’s Labour Party announcement proposing a supervised toothbrushing scheme to target three, four and five year olds in the twenty percent most deprived areas in England is warmly received by the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD).  Based on the CORE20 part of the CORE20PLUS5 CYP[1] initiative, the costed and funded proposal would see children attending schools and nurseries in areas of socioeconomic deprivation receiving supervised toothbrushing and a supply of toothbrushes and toothpaste to take home.

BSPD has been calling for supervised toothbrushing in England for children for over ten years. The Society welcomes this support for families in a cost of living crisis. There is evidence, from Scotland[2] that reaching children as early as possible with supervised toothbrushing schemes gives them a better oral health start to life and is more cost effective in the long term for the NHS. Additional investment has also been announced, increasing the number of children who should be able to see an NHS dentist.

Professor Claire Stevens CBE, BSPD Spokesperson said: “This is a serious plan to grip both the immediate crisis and set NHS dentistry on the path to recovery in the long-term.  BSPD believes that every child should have a ‘dental home’ – an ongoing and preventively focused relationship with an NHS dentist.  However, with children’s dental services in crisis we urgently need to put a blanket of support around the most vulnerable children in our society.  We must recognise that, through no fault of their own, some children need greater help to get the oral health start in life that every child deserves. 

“We therefore welcome these measures as we know we need urgent action to address the persistent and immoral inequalities we see in children’s oral health. Intervening with a targeted supervised toothbrushing scheme is proven to deliver beneficial oral health outcomes that also pay for themselves severalfold in the future.”

Professor Paula Waterhouse, BSPD President said: Children and young people from lower socioeconomic groups are more likely to experience dental decay and more likely to report that their poor oral health impacts on their daily lives. These children can suffer pain, lose sleep and miss days at school. Dental disease is almost always preventable. To see that this plan is costed and can be funded is a relief.  This approach, that is based on targeting the most deprived 20% of children, is a step towards an oral health approach that is equitable – not just equal.”

Professor Stevens added: “I’ll never forget visiting an area of high deprivation and a five year old boy holding up a toothbrush at me – and asking me what it was.  Another child told me that his family only had one shared toothbrush.  We have teenagers who have never been able to access an NHS dentist.  This is not OK. I don’t want to hear stories like these again. Some children, through no fault of their own, are not getting the oral health start that would set them up for life. This targeted approach will make a big difference and because the children get to take their toothbrushes and toothpaste home, this is about partnering with parents to ensure every child has a smile for life.”



[2] Evidence of benefits of supervised toothbrushing schemes




BSPD introduces oral health infographic in 5 languages

Top 3 tips for preventing tooth decay infographic reaches CORE20PLUS5 CYP’s most vulnerable children

The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) has launched a set of infographics with the Top 3 tips for preventing tooth decay aimed at improving oral health which have now been translated into the five languages identified by the CORE20PLUS5 CYP[1] initiative – as targeting the most vulnerable children in the UK.

This infographic project was conceived during the Presidency term of Dr Jenny Harris (now BSPD Past President) to support children and families most in need with simple, clear prevention messages. The aim is that the infographics will be widely used by both dental and non-dental healthcare professionals to support conversations about good oral health behaviours and become a key tool for in-surgery preventive advice.

BSPD’s Top 3 tips for preventing tooth decay is now available in the following languages:

  1. Punjabi
  2. Urdu
  3. Bengali (with Sylheti and Chatgaya)
  4. Polish
  5. Romanian
  6. English (the original version previously available

The posters, which have been adapted from Health Matters: child dental health – GOV UK ( with permission, can be downloaded from the BSPD website and printed for waiting-room walls, in surgeries rooms and in other health care venues – as well as be given to children to take home and keep as a reminder of what they learnt at their dentist appointment.

Dr Jenny Harris, BSPD Past President said: “Our ambition is to get feedback from dentists up and down the country telling us that they have been using this engaging and colourful infographic in-surgery whenever they give oral health advice to children and their parents. It is a great tool for reinforcing the three top tips for looking after teeth, especially as a quick reminder as part of a routine recall visit. We want children to be encouraged to stick the poster up on their bedroom walls amongst their posters of popstars and footballers! That would be a massive win for preventative oral health!

“The intention is that these infographics are also shared with non-dental professionals such as local networks of health visitors and school nurses so we can work together to prevent the next wave of dental caries.”

Professor Paula Waterhouse, BSPD President said: “The priority for my Presidential year is to ensure that we drive the Society’s mission to advocate for accessible, quality paediatric oral health for ALL children and young people.  This is my ‘ED&I lens’ through which I will be viewing all paediatric oral health materials. BSPD has taken up the challenge to lead the way to ensure that paediatric dentistry is entirely inclusive by design. So, I am thrilled that the Society is launching these powerful, yet very simple, infographics in the languages that we know, through the CORE20PLUS5 CYP initiative, will reach those who need and will benefit from them the most.”

These children-facing infographics follow on from BSPD’s initiative in September 2022 to translate the Society’s Practical Guide to Children’s Teeth into the eight languages most commonly spoken by asylum seeking children and their families. The BSPD Practical Guide to Children’s Teeth, has become a key resource for parents and carers.



BSPD pushes for equitable children’s oral health at 2023 conference

Proving ever-popular, BSPD saw over 340 of the Society’s members gather in Newcastle’s Northumbria University for the much anticipated Annual Scientific Conference which focused this year on ‘Tipping the scales – making a fairer world for children in the future.’

The Society’s incoming President, Professor Paula Waterhouse, who is taking over the role from Dr Jenny Harris, opened the two-day conference on 14th September with her welcome to delegates that set out her vision for equality, diversity and inclusion to be reflected in all content in dental institutes’ curricula for under-graduates and post-graduates.

Dr Oliver Sumner, Local Organising Committee Chair & Professor Paula Waterhouse, BSPD President

‘Deep End’, health inequalities & dentistry

The conference heard from Dr Sarah Sowden, Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Public Health, Newcastle University who explored health inequalities by taking BSPD members through the Deep End primary care network[1] and work on engaging primary care practitioners to reduce health inequalities. Dr Sowden reminded us of the significance of the CORE20PLUS5 CYP[2] initiative. As part of this presentation we then heard from a sessional GP and clinical lead, Dr Sameena Hassan, on how her team is working with BSPD’s Professor Chris Vernazza to explore how the learnings from the Deep End Practice Networks might translate to a Deep End Dentistry Network providing oral health services for the most vulnerable.

Influencing effectively for children’s health equities

Highlights from the second day saw Professor Rebecca Harris, Professor of Dental Public Health, University of Liverpool explaining to BSPD members how important the ‘chat’ phase of patient interaction can be as part of helping to improve health inequalities through opening up insights into an individual’s life and perspective. Professor Harris also gave thoughts on how to influence national policy with advice to be solutions-focused when it comes to an advocacy approach.

In addition to topics relevant to ED&I, the conference covered a number of other interesting subjects:

What’s new in cariology?

We saw a number of specialist guest speakers invited from across the world. Professor Yasmi Crystal, Clinical Professor, New York University talked about her work in the US to prevent caries in children using some of the latest research understandings and developments. Her ‘What’s new in cariology?’ presentation covered the multifactorial aetiology of caries and how it differs from other infections. She covered the importance of a balanced approach and celebrated the evolution a number of years back of children under the age of three being able to have fluoride in their toothpaste, which has delivered significant improvements.

Making dentistry sustainable

We then moved on to the responsibility of the dental profession to be sustainable, with Laura Middlemass, Assistant Sustainability Manager, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust talking about sustainability and NHS dentistry. Followed by ‘Experiences of the first carbon-neutral eye surgery’ presented by Dr Sandro Di Simplicio, Consultant at Royal Victoria Infirmary. He showed the audience a thought-provoking presentation on how dentistry can learn from efforts made in ophthalmology to improve dentistry’s carbon footprint.

We then looked at mitigating the environmental  and occupational risks of nitrous oxide with a presentation by pharmacist, Ms Alifia Chakera, Health of Pharmaceutical Sustainability, Scottish Government. She talked the audience through her anaesthetic nitrous oxide research and what this means for dentistry – with the call for a strategy and guidance for dental professionals.

And finally, Professor Paul Ashley, Professor in Paediatric Dentistry, UCL Eastman presented on sustainable dentistry for the paediatric dentist. Professor Ashley reminded members, that the climate crisis is recognised by UNICEF as a children’s rights crisis. He married this statement with the BSPD mission statement, which has a key focus to look after the overall wellbeing of children. Through optimistic communications, rather than a pessimistic approach, Paul rallied dentists to become advocates for sustainability change – with BSPD being part of this movement.

Awards and poster prizes

BSPD President’s Medal

After the presentations, the results of the much anticipated awards and poster prize presentations were announced.  The results are as follows:

  • Undergraduate Poster Prize (sponsored by BSPD Teachers’ Branch)
    Winner: Yasmin Egonu, University of Manchester who presented ‘Expanding the community reach of undergraduate paediatric dentistry – the DiPS project’
  • Clinical Case Award (sponsored by RA Medical Services)
    Winner: Claudia Heggie, Academic Clinical Fellow and StR in Paediatric Dentistry, University of Leeds. Who presented ‘Everything everywhere all at once: multi-disciplinary management of multiple, concurrent dental anomalies.’
  • Research Award (sponsored by the Consultants in Paediatric Dentistry Group)
    Winner: Suzie Welford, StR In Paediatric Dentistry, University of Leeds and Mid Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust Community Dental Services who presented ‘Does a Self-help Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Intervention Reduce Dental Anxiety in Children?’
  • Jane Goodman Clinical Governance Award
    Winner: Chris Wallace, StR In Paediatric Dentistry, Newcastle Dental Hospital who presented ‘Dental Pathway for Paediatric Nephrology Patients: A Quality Improvement Project.’
  • DCP Poster Prize
    Winner: Lisa Sharp, Senior Dental Nurse, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust whose poster focused on ‘Implementing an electronic consent process in a school-based dental survey.’
  • Poster Prize
    Winner: Nathalie Gallichan, NIHR ACF and StR in Paediatric Dentistry, University of Liverpool whose poster focused on ‘Dental trauma attendances to Emergency Departments: A multicentre service evaluation, North-West, England.’
  • Delegates Choice Poster Prize (sponsored by BSPD Northern Branch)
    Winner: Harriet Jones, Dental Officer, Mid Yorkshire NHS Teaching Hospitals whose poster focused on ‘Childhood Obesity and Dental General Anaesthetics.’

Reflecting on the conference, BSPD’s incoming President, Professor Paula Waterhouse said: “The enthusiasm in the auditorium from delegates was tangible. Attendance at our conference this year strongly indicates a determination among the Nations’ paediatric dental profession to collaborate to drive the Society’s mission to advocate for accessible, quality paediatric oral health for all children and young people. 

“It is the ALL part of this vision that I am particularly interested in, and where I want to focus as we build on my ED&I research. BSPD will be leading the way to ensure that paediatric dentistry students understand unconscious bias and that they are exposed to content – written and visual – that is entirely inclusive by design.”


All photos, credit:  Vicky Matthers photography

BSPD announces winners of the 2023 Max Horsnell Travel Award & National Student Elective Prize

The winners of the 2023 Max Horsnell Travel Award and National Student Elective prize are announced today by the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD).  These annual awards recognise vision and endeavour in the field of paediatric dentistry. These BSPD prizes are awarded each year following a judging process for both that is overseen by three members of BSPD’s Conference Abstract and Prize Committee (CAPC).

There are two winners of the Max Horsnell Travel Award. BSPD established this travel bursary to support members (excluding consultants and equivalent academic grades) who wish to present a poster or oral communication at scientific meetings of the European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry or the International Association of Paediatric Dentistry. An award of £500 is given towards travel costs to relevant dentistry conferences per annum.

Jasmine Cachia Mintoff joint-winner of the BSPD Max Horsnell Travel Award 2023: 

Jasmine Cachia Mintoff from East Surrey Hospital submitted the winning paper entitled: What’s On Your Mind! A survey to explore the impact of specialty training on the mental health of trainees in paediatric dentistry.  Her presentation showed that training pressures have a negative effect on the mental health of trainees and that further support and interventions were necessary to tackle bullying.

Fiona Sotir

Fiona Sotir joint-winner of the BSPD Max Horsnell Travel Award 2023:

Fiona Sotir from the University of Sheffield submitted the winning paper entitled: Blending health and design: better healthcare technology through co-design with children and young people.  The objective of her presentation was to show the value of co-design approaches for health technologies. Two case study projects illustrated valuable engagement from young people and a need to adopt these approaches more frequently.

Rosa Donaldson winner of the BSPD National Student Elective Prize 2023: 

This competition was open to BSPD student members who are intending to undertake an elective project within the year. Students submitted a summary of a maximum of 250 words, describing their proposed elective project involving the dental health of children. The winning student will have to submit a short report on their elective project once completed. One award of the value of £300 is given for the National Student Elective Prize to support the student’s elective project.

Rosa Donaldson from University of Glasgow submitted the winning elective project entitled: Avulsion first Aid – Can Routine Management Advice Make a Difference?

Rosa Donaldson

Chair of the BSPD Conference Abstracts and Prizes Committee, Dr Chris Vernazza, said: “The standard of the Max Horsnell entries was particularly high this year. For BSPD, being able to support our paediatric dentistry colleagues is crucial, so Jasmine’s ‘What’s on your mind?’ initiative was full of valuable insights. Then from Fiona’s submission, the BSPD judging panel were impressed with the drive to co-design with children and young people for better health technologies.  At the Society we know that co-creation is important to ensure that everything we produce is fit for purpose – for children. We were impressed to see energy and drive to support children’s oral health shown by both winners.

“We were also impressed with the standard of the submissions for the National Student Elective Prize. The applicants showed ambition to improve oral health outcomes for children and we anticipate exciting careers in paediatric dentistry ahead for all!”

BSPD President visits Downing Street in support of ‘Free School Meals for All’

Dr Jenny Harris, President of BSPD joined a group of supporters of the ‘Free School Meals for All’ campaign outside Downing Street today. The ‘No Child Left Behind’ group responsible for the ‘Free School Meals for All’ initiative delivered its open letter, signed by BSPD’s President on behalf of the Society, calling for an extension of free school meals to all children in primary schools in England. Primary schools in England do not currently receive funding for ‘Free School Meals for All’ – despite the scheme being announced in Scotland, Wales and most recently in London as part of a one year scheme to support families with the cost of living crisis. 

The open letter, signed by more than 240 community organisations, faith groups, charities and trade unions, and over 90,000 individuals, came on the penultimate day of the Free School Meals for All campaign’s National Week of Action (24-30 June), which has a series of local and national events and activities. The Free School Meals for All campaign is supported by nearly 90 MPs, Peers, local councils and mayors, who are putting their weight behind the call to ensure no child goes too hungry to learn at school.

Mrs Jenny Harris, President of BSPD, said, “BSPD supports the ‘Free School Meals for All’ campaign because day-to-day, our paediatric dental colleagues see the impact poor diet has on children’s health and wellbeing.  We know that a good nutritious meal at lunchtime helps children to get the most out of their school day.  Being healthy, and that includes having good oral health, allows children to enjoy both their studies and their playtime.

“At BSPD we have recently focused on children’s rights. To fulfil the right to reach their potential requires all children to have access to healthy nutritious food.  We need the Government to support this right by giving free school meals for all primary school children in the UK.”

BSPD launches ‘Rights from the Start’ initiative

Launching today (9 June 2023), BSPD’s new ‘Rights from the Start’ initiative will shine a spotlight on children and young people’s rights. Mrs Jenny Harris, President of BSPD and Consultant in Community Paediatric Dentistry, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is launching BSPD’s children’s rights initiative in the UK to drive better awareness amongst dental professionals when seeing paediatric patients. At the centre of this initiative, is a fact sheet outlining these rights according to The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Carrying endorsements from the British Dental Association (BDA) and the NSPCC, the fact sheet, which can also be used as a poster, was co-developed with support from the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) Child Friendly Cities & Communities programme.

The aim is to bring clarity for professional colleagues in dentistry, and beyond – to anyone who works with children and young people – so that they can feel confident in their understanding of the rights that they must uphold for the youngest in our society.

Printed versions of the fact sheet are being issued with the British Dental Journal (BDJ) in June with the suggestion that dental practices may want to use them to prompt discussion amongst their teams or to put them up as posters on a staff noticeboard. Jenny has written an opinion article to accompany the fact sheet which will also appear in the BDJ issue out on 9 June 2023.  This article in the journal explores the implications for clinical teams.

Additional support for BSPD’s Rights from the Start initiative

In addition to the BDA, NSPCC and UNICEF UK, BSPD is delighted to have further support of the Rights from the Start messaging from the following organisations:

  1. British Association of Dental Nurses (BADN)
  2. British Association of Dental Therapists (BADT)
  3. British Orthodontic Society (BOS)
  4. British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT)
  5. British Society for Oral & Dental Research (BSODR)
  6. British Society of Special Care Dentistry (BSSCD)
  7. Global Child Dental Fund (GCDF)
  8. Society of British Dental Nurses (SBDN)

Mrs Jenny Harris, President of BSPD and Consultant in Community Paediatric Dentistry, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who conceived the Rights from the Start initiative said, “It’s crucial that inequalities in children’s oral health at a population level are tackled and tackled fast. Change is needed soon. Children desperately need far-reaching solutions to uphold their right to the best dental care possible. We are, as yet, a long way off that.

“But there are also things we can do in our day-to-day clinical practice to respect and uphold individual children’s rights. That’s what I have focused on in my article in the British Dental Journal – things like providing information children can understand, listening to their views and supporting them to make decisions.”

Dr Fiona Gilchrist, Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Dentistry at The University of Sheffield, who chaired the organising committee for BSPD’s 2022 children’s rights-themed conference in Sheffield said, “We have a duty to advocate for children to have equitable access to dental services – including specialist care if required and treatment under general anaesthesia when that is the best option. It is a child’s right, but at the moment it is little more than a postcode lottery whether these things are available locally.”

Eddie Crouch, Chair, BDA said, “A healthy start in life is a fundamental right for all young people, and oral health is too often the missing piece. From the outset, the British Dental Association (BDA) have supported BSPD’s important work on Rights from the Start.  This profession has a key role to play, to come together to support and uphold these rights.”

Sarah Handley, Child Friendly Cities & Communities Programme Manager, UNICEF UK, said, “Oral and dental care professionals play a vital role in helping to uphold human rights for all children. Taking a child rights-based approach to oral and dental health means ensuring not only that children and young people have equitable access to good quality healthcare, but that they are able to actively participate in decisions that affect them, and that their best interests are at heart.  We welcome this initiative from BSPD and are very pleased to support it.”

Mrs Catherine Simmons, practice owner at Moreton Road Dental Practice, Oxford said, “I am always looking out for interesting topics for our weekly team meetings. We’ve never looked specifically at children’s rights before, so the poster and article will be ideal to start a discussion and think through what it means for our patients.”