Oral health behaviours of children and adolescence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland: Findings from the 2013 Child Dental Health Survey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University College London


Background: The 2013 Children’s Dental Health Survey is the fifth in a series of national surveys of child oral health.
Aim: To describe the oral health behaviours in children and adolescents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Method: A representative sample of children (aged 5, 8 12 and 15 years) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were invited to participate in dental examinations. Children and parents were also invited to complete a questionnaire about oral health behaviours.
Results: Overall the majority of children and young people reported good oral health behaviours. For example more than three quarters of the 12 and 15 year olds reported brushing their teeth twice a day or more often. However a sizeable proportion of the sample reported less positive behaviours. Nearly 30%of 5 year olds first started to brush their teeth after the age of 1 year. Among 15 year olds, 11% were current smokers and 37% reported that they currently drank alcohol. 16% of 12 year olds reported to consume drinks containing sugar four or more times a day. Of particular concern was the marked differences that existed by level of deprivation. Children living in lower income households (eligible for free school meals) were less likely to brush their teeth twice a day, more likely to start brushing after 6 months, more likely to be a smoker and more likely to consume frequent amounts of sugary drinks.
Conclusion: Despite some encouraging overall patterns of good oral health behaviours, a sizeable proportion of children and young people reported behaviours that may lead to poorer oral and general health. Preventive support should be delivered in clinical dental settings to encourage positive oral health behaviours. Public health strategies are also needed to reduce inequalities in oral health behaviours amongst children and young people.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263 - 268
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Early online date9 Sep 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Sep 2016


  • Paediatric dentistry, Dental public health , Oral health promotion