People's History of the NHS

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Teeth Matter

Dental health campaigning was introduced by the Ministry of Health in the late 1950s and extended throughout the 1960s in part stimulated by the introduction of dental charges. The fees paid to dentists were cut in 1952 and at the same time a universal £1 charge was introduced to contribute to the escalating costs of dental treatment on the funds of the NHS. Coupled with the end of rationing and the wide availability of sugar and sweets resulted in the rapid reduction of children without any evidence of tooth decay from 22 per cent in 1948 to just 13 per cent in 1958. The launch of a dental health campaign sought to reverse this trend encouraging the adoption of a preventive rather than curative approach to dental health. It similarly emphasised the visual positioning of children within a wider public health campaigning focus.
JH

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