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Adult Dental Health Survey 2009: implications of findings for clinical practice and oral health policy

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Jimmy Steele CBE, Professor John Murray


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This is the final paper in a series reporting on the results of the 2009 Adult Dental Health Survey. Since 1968 national adult surveys have been repeated every decade with broadly similar methods providing a unique overview of trends in oral health over a 40-year period. This paper aims to explore the implications for dentists and oral health policy of the key results from the Adult Dental Health Survey 2009. Although repeat, cross-sectional, epidemiological surveys provide very valuable data on trends in disease patterns, they do not provide answers to test causal relationships and therefore cannot identify the causes for the significant improvements in oral health over the last 40 years. Evidence would indicate, however, that broad societal shifts in population norms and behaviours, combined with changes in clinical diagnostic criteria, treatment planning and clinical procedures are the main reasons for the changes that have taken place. Key implications of the survey results include the need to monitor, support and maintain the good state of oral health of the increasing proportion of younger adults with relatively simple treatment needs. A smaller number of young and middle aged adults but a significant proportion of older adults will have far more complex treatment needs requiring advanced restorative and periodontal care. Future oral health policy will need to address oral health inequalities, encourage skill mix and promote and facilitate the dental profession to deliver appropriate and high quality care relevant to the needs of their local population.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Watt RG, Steele JG, Treasure ET, White DA, Pitts NB, Murray JJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Dental Journal

Year: 2013

Volume: 214

Issue: 2

Pages: 71-75

Print publication date: 01/01/2013

Online publication date: 25/01/2013

Acceptance date: 26/11/2012

ISSN (print): 0007-0610

ISSN (electronic): 1476-5373

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2013.50


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