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Forty Years of National Surveys: An overview of children's dental health from 1973-2013.

Lookup NU author(s): Professor John Murray, Professor Chris VernazzaORCiD, Dr Richard HolmesORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a review that has been published in its final definitive form by Nature Publishing Group, 2015.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Introduction. The first national survey of children's dental health in England and Wales was carried out in 1973. Subsequent surveys, in1983, 1993 and 2003, included all United Kingdom Health Departments. The 2013 survey involved England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Aim. To consider all five surveys, from 1973 to 2013, so as to summarise trends in the dental health of children in the U.K. over the last 40 years. Material and Method. The surveys were commissioned by the Health & Social Care Information Centre using data collected during dental examinations conducted in schools on a random sample of children by NHS dentists, together with a questionnaire to parents of those children. In 2013, a pupil questionnaire for 12 & 15 year olds was introduced, to complement information received from parents and carers. Results. A total of 69,318 children, aged 5-15 years, were involved, from 1973-2013. Caries prevalence has reduced from 72% to 41% in 5year olds, and from 97% to 46% in 15 year olds in 40 years. Changes in periodontal disease, orthodontic treatment, accidental damage to anterior teeth, tooth surface loss and enamel defects, are also summarised. Behavioural and attitudinal characteristics observed in the 2013 report are listed. Conclusions. Caries is now concentrated in a minority of children. The prevalence of gingivitis has not changed a great deal in 40 years. About half of those children assessed 'in orthodontic need' receive treatment.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Murray JJ, Vernazza CR, Holmes RD

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Dental Journal

Year: 2015

Volume: 219

Issue: 6

Pages: 281-285

Online publication date: 25/09/2015

Acceptance date: 13/08/2015

ISSN (print): 0007-0610

ISSN (electronic): 1476-5373

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2015.723