Published on April 1, 2011

Adult Dental Health Survey 2009: Key Findings

Last week saw the release of the 2009 UK Adult Dental Health Survey findings. Conducted once every ten years since 1968, the survey (carried out over six months by a team of interviewers and clinical examiners) aims to provide an overall picture of the dental health and habits of British residents.    

71% of people in the UK reported having good or very good dental health

The 2009 survey indicated that:

  • 94% of the UK population were dentate (had at least one natural tooth) while 6% were edentate (had no natural teeth)- indicating an overall improvement in population oral health since the 1998 survey, which showed that 87% of the population retained some natural teeth while 13% were edentate
  • The average number of teeth among dentate adults was 25.7, up from 24.8 in 1998
  • Only 17% of dentate adults had very healthy gum tissue and no evidence of periodontal disease
  • Only 10% of adults met the survey’s criteria for “excellent” oral health
  • 71% of all respondents reported their dental health as “good” or “very good”
  • 37% of those in routine or manual professions showed evidence of decay in their dentition, versus only 26% of those in professional or managerial households
  • The overall prevalence of decay has fallen from 46% to 28% since 1998
  • 66% of respondents had visible plaque on at least 1 tooth- down from 72% in 1998
  • Moderate tooth wear, including acid erosion, has increased from 11% to 15% since 1998
  • 9% of dentate adults report current tooth pain in the clinical exam, and 8% report experiencing pain very or fairly often in the last 12 months
  • 84% of dentate adults had at least 1 filled tooth; in 1998 92% had at least one coronal restoration
  • Adults had an increased likelihood of serious pain and tooth decay if they didn’t attend check-ups, brushed their teeth less than once a day or were smokers
  • 22% of adults currently smoke (as of 2009)
  • 30% occasionally or more often experienced physical pain resulting from oral health issues, while 19% reported psychological discomfort as a result of the same
  • In 2009, nearly 1 in 5 adults wore some form of (partial or complete) removable denture: 6% were edentate, and 13% had a combination of partial dentures and natural teeth
  • 75% of adults (versus 74% in 1998) said they cleaned their teeth twice a day, and 23% cleaned their teeth once a day (versus 22% in 1998) while only 1% never cleaned their teeth at all
  • 78% of dentate adults had received advice on tooth or gum cleaning from a dental professional- versus 62% in 1998
  • 50% of all dentate adults reported attending a dentist at least once every 6 months, and a further 21% attend at least once a year; 61% cited regular check-ups as the reason for their visit
  • 71% received NHS treatment at their last dental appointment (71% also in 1998), while 27% received private care (up from 18% in 1998) and 1% a mixture of both (down from 2%).
  • 12% of adults who had ever been to a dentist had a Modified Dental Anxiety Scale score of 19, suggesting extreme dental anxiety- with more women affected than men
  • Drilling (30% of all respondents) and local anaesthetic injection (28%) elicited the greatest anxiety in those surveyed
  • 80% of adults gave no negative feedback at all about their last dental visit

On the whole, the trends suggested by the survey are positive- with only the increase in the prevalence of tooth wear giving cause for concern.

And with our own dental market survey well underway, we look forward to bringing you further insights into the world of dentistry in the very near future…

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