Decay rates lower for 5-year olds but inequalities persist

Decay rates lower for 5-year olds but inequalities persist

The results of the Oral Health Survey of 5-year-old children 2017 show wide variation at both regional and local authority level for both prevalence and severity of dental decay. Overall 76.7% of 5-year-old children in England had no experience of obvious dental decay, for the fourth consecutive survey.

The oral health survey of 5-year-old children takes place every two years to collect dental health information for children aged 5 years old who attend mainstream, state-funded schools across England. The aim of the survey is to measure the prevalence and severity of dental caries among 5-year-old children within each lower-tier local authority. This is to provide information to local authorities, the NHS and other partners on the dental health of children in their local areas and highlight any inequalities.

Overall, 76.7% of five-year-old children in England had no experience of obvious dental decay. This is the fourth consecutive survey which has shown improvement in the proportion of children who are free of obvious decay. Among the 23.3% of children with some experience of obvious decay, the average number of teeth that were decayed, missing or filled was 3.4. The average number of decayed, missing or filled teeth (d3mft) in the whole sample, including the 76.7% who were decay free, was 0.8. This results in nearly 17,000 children in this birth cohort already having experienced extraction of one or more teeth.

The results reveal wide variation at regional and local authority level for both prevalence and severity of dental decay. There is almost a twenty-fold difference in severity between the lower-tier local authorities [smaller districts], with the lowest level of decay (0.1 d3mft in Waverley) and the highest (2.3 d3mft in Pendle). Children from deprived backgrounds have higher levels of decay than those least deprived, prevalence among most deprived children is 33.7% and for the least deprived is 13.6%.

Children in particular ethnic groups had markedly higher levels of decay prevalence. Among children from Eastern Europe the prevalence was 49.4%, compared to 19.6% for Black/black British. Children in non-fluoridated areas have poorer oral health than those in fluoridated areas and those in the north had poorer health compared with those elsewhere in the country.

For results see: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/oral-health-survey-of-5-year-old-children-2017

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