United Kingdom

Dental health

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Children from routine and manual backgrounds have, on average, one more tooth with obvious tooth decay than other children.
  • 5-year-olds in the North of England have, on average, more missing, decayed or filled teeth then 5-year-olds in the South (excluding London) or the Midlands.

Why this indicator was originally chosen

Research by the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry suggests that dental health among children is strongly correlated with other aspects of disadvantage.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows, for both 5-year-olds and 15-year-olds, how the average number of teeth with obvious tooth decay varies by the social class of their family.

The data source for the first graph is a 2003 government survey entitled Dental Health Survey of Children and Young People (tables 1 to 3).  The data relates to the United Kingdom.  The choice of 5-year-olds and 15-year-olds is to avoid the age group where primary teeth are being replaced by permanent teeth.

The second graph shows how the average number of missing, decayed or filled teeth for 5-year-olds varies by region.

The data source for the second graph is a large 2007/08 survey conducted by the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry.  The data relates to England only (although equivalent surveys were done in Scotland and Wales, their results are not considered to be comparable).

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  Both surveys are substantial.  However, the response rate for the survey used in the second graph was rather low (around 66%).  This makes geographic comparisons somewhat problematic given that the non-responders are likely to have different characteristics than the responders.  It also means that the result are not comparable with previous surveys.

Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

None directly relevant.

The numbers

Graph 1

Social class Age 5 Age 15
Professional or managerial backgrounds 1.2 3.0
Intermediate backgrounds 1.0 2.8
Routine or manual backgrounds 1.8 3.8

Graph 2

East Midlands 1.0
East 0.8
London 1.3
North East 1.5
North West 1.5
South East 0.9
South West 1.0
West Midlands 1.0
Yorkshire & the Humber 1.5