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The dental caries experience of 5-year-old children in Great Britain. Surveys coordinated by the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry in 1999/2000

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

N B Pitts, D J Evans, Z J Nugent

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-55
Number of pages7
JournalCommunity Dental Health
Issue number1
PublishedMar 2001

King's Authors


OBJECTIVE: This paper reports the results of standardised clinical caries examinations of 199,440 5-year-old children from across Great Britain. These 1999/2000 coordinated surveys are the latest in a series which seek to monitor the dental health of children and to assess the delivery of dental services.

METHOD: The criteria and conventions of the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry were used. Representative samples were drawn from participating health authorities and boards and caries was diagnosed at the caries into dentine threshold using a visual method without radiography or fibre-optic transillumination.

RESULTS: The results again demonstrated a wide variation in prevalence across Britain, with mean values for d3mft for the current English regions (of the National Health Service) and for Wales and Scotland ranging from 0.94 in the West Midlands to 2.55 in Scotland. Mean d3mft across Great Britain was 1.57 (d3t=1.14. mt=0.22, ft=0.21). Overall, 40% of children had evidence of dentinal caries experience (d3mft>0), although the means ranged between 30% (West Midlands) and 55% (Scotland). The distribution of caries was highly skewed. Thus the British mean caries experience for those with the disease was 3.88, as opposed to the overall mean of 1.57. Trends over time demonstrate a modest improvement of 4% in overall d3mft for Britain since 1997/98, compared with the 8.6% improvement seen for the two previous years. All three components with dmft have also fallen. The care index has remained virtually unchanged in Britain as a whole (13.6% in 1999/2000, compared to 13.9% in 1997/8). Regional/country means for 1999/2000 ranged from 8-20%. This indicator has not, however, regained the levels seen in the past.

CONCLUSION: There has been some improvement in the dental health of 5-year-old children. Overall, the provision of operative care for those with dental decay has not changed; significant groups remain within the population of 5-year-old children who have dental disease and who are in need of dental care.

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