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Newcastle University academic key to national study looking at children’s dental health


A leading Newcastle University academic has been instrumental in a study looking at young people’s dental health

Professor Jimmy Steele CBE, head of the university’s School of Dental Sciences, has worked in collaboration with experts throughout the country on the Children’s Dental Health Survey 2013.
Findings show that more than a third of 12-year-olds and 28% of 15-year-olds say they have been embarrassed to smile or laugh due to how they felt about the condition of their teeth during the past three months.
The survey shows reductions in the proportions of 12 and 15-year-olds with some obvious experience of decay in their adult teeth since the last time the survey was carried out in 2003. However, tooth decay was still found in 34% of 12-year-olds and 44% of 15-year-olds.
Among 12-year-olds, 16% said they have sugary drinks four or more times a day, and within 15-year-olds, 14% said this.
Professor Steele said: “Newcastle University is one of the lead players in the consortium, involved in designing the surveys, training the dentists and collecting, analysing and writing about the data.
“Training the field teams to record what they see precisely and consistently is important and challenging. For the 2013 survey the training took place in a small number of primary and secondary schools in Newcastle - we are very grateful for their participation.
“The findings will be instrumental in the design of NHS services and policy.”
The Children’s Dental Health Survey 2013 is published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre and provides information on the dental health of children in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The report shows that around a third of five-year-olds and 46% of eight-year-olds have decay in their milk teeth.
Among five-year-olds from more deprived families, 41% had tooth decay, compared to 29% among other five-year-olds from less deprived families.
For 15-year-olds from more deprived families, the proportion with tooth decay was 59%, compared to 43% among 15-year-olds from less deprived families.
Professor Steele, honorary consultant in restorative dentistry at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, added: “As always, there are changes and surprises.
“Fewer children are affected by decay than ever before, and this is part of a long-term trend, but the differences between the best-off and worst-off in society are now very apparent.
“Problems with oral health, such as pain, bad decay or an impact on appearance, are also common and can have a big impact on young people and their families.”
The Children’s Dental Health Survey is a 10 yearly publication and has tracked oral health going as far back as 1973, showing trends in disease and in social attitudes towards teeth and dental disease, identifying new risks and areas of improvement.
Nearly two fifths of children were classed as having good overall oral health, meaning they had no obvious decay, no tooth surface loss into dentine and no tartar.
Among 12-year-olds, 69% of boys and 85% of girls reported brushing their teeth at least twice a day. Among 15-year-olds, 73% of boys and 89% of girls said this.

Read more here about how our research is being used to reform dental services with our Impact case study.

published on: 19 March 2015