Dental caries experience of British children in an international context

AS Blinkhorn, MC Downer, CS Drugan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract OBJECTIVES: To document data on current and past levels of dental decay in British children and compare trends with those in other countries, in Europe in particular. METHOD: Data were abstracted from multiple sources and collated and tabulated. RESULTS: The dental health of the majority of British children has improved dramatically since the early 1970s. Twelve-year-old children now have on average less than one decayed, missing (extracted) or filled tooth. Levels of dental decay in UK children at 5 and 12 years are among the lowest in the world. There are still marked inequalities in the dental decay experience of children between the territorial regions of the UK, high and low socio-economic groups, and regular and symptomatic dental attenders. Many children in areas of deprivation are either not motivated to seek dental treatment or experience barriers in obtaining it. In parallel with improvements in the dental health of the majority of children, the proportion of UK adults who have no natural teeth has fallen from 37% to 12% over the past four decades. Total tooth loss is now confined almost entirely to individuals over 45 years of age. Most of the improvements in children's dental health are attributable to environmental factors, in particular the widespread availability of fluoride containing toothpastes since the 1970s. There are clear benefits from fluoridation of public water supplies over and above those attributable to other factors. CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest initiatives should be directed to bringing children from deprived backgrounds under the umbrella of dental care. To help alleviate the inequalities in dental health, water fluoridation should be implemented, in urban industrial areas in particular, where levels of dental decay are still unacceptably high.
Translated title of the contributionDental caries experience of British children in an international context
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86 - 93
Number of pages8
JournalCommunity Dental Health
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005

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