Greater child dental health inequality in England compared to Wales and Northern Ireland, despite lower average disease levels

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Introduction: Dental caries and inequalities in dental health are major public health concerns. 

Aim: To report variation in dental cariesexperience across deprivation quintiles and the magnitude of inequalities between countries. 

Design: Secondary analyses of cross-sectionaldata from the 2013 Child Dental Health Survey (CDHS) in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. 

Materials and methods: Distributionof dental caries across deprivation quintiles were estimated using as proportions and means. The magnitude of inequalities was calculatedusing the Relative Index of Inequality (RII). 

Main outcomes: Dental caries experience as indicated by the prevalence (%dmft/DMFT>0)and severity (dmft/DMFT) of ‘obvious’ and ‘clinical’ decay experience in both primary and permanent dentitions. 

Results: Children frommore deprived quintiles showed higher prevalence and severity of dental caries. RIIs for dental caries were greater in England than Walesor Northern Ireland, indicating greater relative inequalities despite lower average dental caries experience. The prevalence and severity ofdental caries among the most deprived children in England were 1.7 to 3.7 times greater than those of the least deprived. 

Conclusion:There is a deprivation gradient in child dental caries in all three countries, with England showing the greatest inequalities.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-142
Number of pages5
JournalCommunity Dental Health
Issue number2
Early online date24 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Dental caries, Dental health surveys, DMF index, Socioeconomic status, DMF Index, Dental Health Surveys, Dental Caries