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Support from schools ‘vital’ to success of Children’s Dental Health Survey 2013

Released: 13 February 2013 Download PDF

A 10-year survey of children’s teeth in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will take place in autumn 2013. 

Dental experts say support from schools is key to the success of the Children's Dental Health survey, which has been carried out every 10 years since 1973.

Over 1,000 schools and up to 21,000 children will take part in the study which is an essential tool for planning future dental care services.

The survey involves a short dental examination at school with a random sample of children aged five, eight, twelve and fifteen followed by a postal questionnaire for parents/guardians.

An innovation for 2013 is a self-completion questionnaire for 12 and 15-year-olds, allowing children to record their own dental care regime.

Primary and secondary schools (including academies and free schools) will be invited to take part and both state maintained and independent schools will be included in the sample.

Barry Cockcroft CBE, the Chief Dental Officer for England, said, ‘Support from dentists, schools, parents and children is vital to the success of this survey. It helps measure changes in oral health and provides information to policy-makers on how best to plan dental services in the future.’

The survey will involve a short dental check-up with a qualified dentist. This will take place at school with a random sample of children and young people aged 5, 8, 12 and 15 and will be followed by a postal questionnaire for their parents or guardians. Support will be available to guide schools through the survey process. The data collected will be confidential and no school, student or parent will be identifiable.

The results of the survey aid the planning of health services which aim to improve the oral health of all children. The 2003 results showed that the oral health of children has improved greatly since the 1970s and 80s.

The Office for National Statistics will be writing directly to selected schools in the 2013 summer term. The results will be published following the completion of the study.

The study is being carried out on behalf of the Health and Social Care Information Centre with funding provided by the Department of Health in each country. The research consortium is led by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and includes the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) and five University Dental Schools (Birmingham, Cardiff, Newcastle, University College London and Kings College London).

The survey provides information on the dental health of children, measures changes in oral health and provides information on children’s experiences of dental care and treatment and their oral hygiene. It is designed to complement both the ongoing NHS dental epidemiology programme of schools-based research on the oral health of children, and other sources of data available to planners and commissioners of dental services. The surveyed population will include children attending state and independent primary and secondary schools.

The last survey, in 2003, showed that obvious decay experience in the permanent teeth of 8, 12 and 15-year-old children had decreased significantly since 1983 to its lowest recorded level.

Notes to Editors

Key Findings from the Children’s Dental Health Survey

  • The proportion of 5 and 8-year-olds with filled primary teeth has declined since 1983. In both 5 and 8-year-olds, filled primary teeth represented a smaller proportion of the total obvious decay experience than in the previous surveys.

  • There has been a decrease in the average number of filled primary teeth in both 5 and 8-year-olds. The average number of filled primary teeth in 5-year-olds decreased from 0.5 teeth in 1983, to 0.3 teeth in 1993 and 0.2 teeth in 2003 and in 8-year-olds decreased from 1.2 teeth in 1983 to 0.7 teeth in 1993 and 0.5 teeth in 2003.

  • In 2003, 62% of 12-year-olds and 50% of 15-year-olds were free from any obvious decay experience in the permanent teeth. Among both 12 and 15-year-olds 87% were free from cavities into dentine in the permanent teeth.

  • The proportion of 8, 12 and 15-year-olds with permanent teeth with cavities into dentine and permanent teeth with obvious decay experience has decreased. The percentage point fall was particularly pronounced in the proportion of 15-year-olds with cavities into dentine; 42% in 1983, 30% in 1993 and 13% in 2003.

  • There was a decrease in the proportion of 12 and 15-year-olds with filled permanent teeth. The proportion of the total obvious decay experience represented by filled permanent teeth among 8, 12 and 15-year-olds has increased since 1993. This indicates an increase in restorative care as more obviously decayed teeth had been filled.

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