The dentinal caries experience of children in the United Kingdom, 2003

NB Pitts, IG Chestnutt, D Evans, Deborah White, B Chadwick, JG Steele

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65 Citations (Scopus)


Background The 2003 Children's Dental Health Survey is the fourth in a series of decennial national children's dental health surveys. Aims This paper reports the survey-derived estimates of dentinal caries experience of children aged five, eight, 12 and 15 years, considering the trends over recent decades and the position in 2003 following changes in disease presentation and the use of additional criteria. Methodology A representative UK sample of children in the four specified age groups were invited to participate in a clinical dental examination in school. A total of 12,698 children were sampled and 10,381 were examined (82%). Examinations were undertaken in school by trained and calibrated examining teams using reclining chairs and portable lights, the criteria were visual, limited to dentine caries and no diagnostic aids were employed. In order to compare trend data with 1993 and earlier surveys the criteria allowed the reclassification of the full 2003a results ( those including cavities and visual dentine caries-D3cvMFT/d(3cv)mft) according to the previous criteria to produce results labelled 2003b (those restricted to dentinal cavities-D3cMFT/d(3c)mft). Results and conclusions The experience of obvious dentinal caries in children within the UK has continued to change over the last decade and patterns are different for the two dentitions. While continuing overall improvements are evident for permanent teeth across the UK (D-3c for 15-year-old children falling from 42% in 1983, via 30% in 1993 to 13% in 2003 for example), trends amongst those experiencing dentinal caries are more concerning and there have been no statistically significant improvements for primary teeth (the mean number of teeth with obvious dentine decay (d(3c)) at age five years being 1.3 in 1983 and 1.4 in both 1993 and 2003). The inclusion in the criteria of visual dentinal caries resulted in higher estimates of mean caries and mean caries experience in the permanent dentition (at age 15 years D-3 increasing from 0.2 to 0.8, D3MFT increasing from 1.6 to 2.0 for example) but not the primary dentition (where the estimates for % d(3)mft at age five years were identical at 43%). Geographic variations also persist across the UK (% with D3cvMFT at 12 years being 41% for England, 54% Wales, 73% Northern Ireland and 43% for the UK; % with d(3cv)mft at age 5 years: 41% for England, 52% Wales, 61% Northern Ireland and 43% for the UK). These survey results have implications for planning and for daily practice, but must be interpreted carefully acknowledging the specific survey conditions and diagnostic criteria employed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313 - 320
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2006


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