The Children’s Dental Health Survey: Results

April 1st, 2015

Debate was rife on the BBC website last week following the publication of an article entitled ‘Half of eight-year-olds have tooth decay’. The BBC were citing a survey which was commissioned by the Health and Social Care Information Centre. The Children’s Dental Health Survey for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is carried out every ten years and aims to get a good picture of children’s oral health across the UK. Close to 10,000 children took part in the current survey and overall the findings are described as ‘encouraging’. So what is really going on?

Key findings:

  • Large proportions of young and teenage children still show signs of oral disease across the UK.
  • As the headline states: nearly half of all eight year olds have signs of tooth decay. In the five year old category, a third of children present with signs.
  • In the 12-15 year old age group, signs were more encouraging: for 12 year olds, now only 34% of children are affected, compared to 43% ten years ago. For 15 years, a similar 10% drop in the rate of children affected was present.
  • Tooth decay rates were higher for children living in deprived families: almost 10% higher than for an equivalent child of the same age in a better-off family.
  • Dental inspections in Scotland show continued reductions in the number of children affected with tooth decay.
  • Overall, looking at all age groups and increases and decreases, rates of tooth decay are decreasing: the oral health of children is gradually improving.

The current survey results are encouraging: tooth decay rates in children are declining. However they are still far higher than they should, or need, to be. To avoid tooth decay, children should be supported to brush their teeth twice a day, for at least two minutes each time. A toothpaste containing fluoride is recommended. Consumption of sugary drinks and snacks should be reduced or avoided, as sugar is a major contributory factor in tooth decay. Careful monitoring of food labels and packaging can really help with this. Regular dental check-ups are also a must and can help you identify signs of decay and plan how to look after your child’s teeth. Ock Street also offer a number of options such as fissure sealants which can help you to take proactive measures to maintaining good oral health for your children.

So whilst the current survey results are encouraging, there is still much to be done in the fight against tooth decay in children. For more information about the survey findings, and to hear what others thought, please visit the BBC website:

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