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Seven out of ten children in England seen by NHS dentists

September 17, 2013: Seven out of ten children in England saw an NHS dentist in the 24-month period to June 2013 - a proportion that has remained relatively unchanged since 2006 according to new figures.

*HSCIC must be quoted as the source of these figures

In the 24-month period to June 2013, 7.8 million children in England (69.1 per cent of the child population aged under 18) were seen by an NHS dentist according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

While the actual number of children seeing a dentist has increased by 0.5 per cent (by 41,000) since 2006-07 when this report series began, the proportion of the child population seen has remained fairly consistent at around the 70 per cent mark.

The numbers of adult patients seen were 20.3 million in 2006-07 and 21.9 million in 2012-13 which is an increase of 7.8 per cent. Despite this increase, the proportion of the adult population seen has also remained fairly consistent around the 52 per cent mark, and was 52.5 per cent for the 24-month period to June 2013.

Key findings in today's NHS Dental Statistics report show that in 2012-132:

  • There were more female than male dentists aged 35 years and under (56.1 per cent, or 4,810 out of 8,579 dentists) which has been evident for the past seven years since 2006-07.
  • When looking at the gender breakdown of older dentists three out of four dentists aged 55 years and over were male (2,434 out of 3,186).
  • NHS dentists carried out 39.3 million Courses of Treatment (CoT)3, 249,000 fewer than the previous year (39.6 million, a fall of 0.6 per cent).
  • Half of Units of Dental Activity (UDA, which make up CoT)4 for non-paying adults5 were Band 3 complex NHS dental treatments (50.0 per cent, or 14.4 million out of 28.7 million) whereas for patients who pay for dental treatments this was around one in four (27.5 per cent, or 11.7 million out of 42.4 million).
  • Over two million CoT for children included a fluoride varnish treatment6 (a 45.4 per cent rise on 1.4 million in the previous year) and this is now the third most common dental treatment for children behind examinations and fillings/sealant restorations.
  • CoT in adults that included a prescribed antibiotic item increased by one third to 592,000, a rise of 32.6 per cent on 447,000 in the previous year.

HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning said: "Our figures show that despite an increase in the number of children visiting an NHS dentist, the actual percentage of our child population paying a visit to the dentist's chair has remained stable in recent years.

"The apparent lack of change will be of interest to not only policy makers and professionals but also to parents and patients. Data such as these are important to help understand service provision and public behaviours."

Read the full report at


Notes to editors

1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 130 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.

2. The figures in the bullet points are rounded. Calculations have been carried out using unrounded figures, which are available in Annex 4 in the report.

3. A Course of Treatment (CoT) is defined as an examination of a patient, an assessment of their oral health, and the planning of any treatment to be provided to that patient as a result of that examination and assessment, and the provision of any planned treatment (including any treatment planned at a time other than the time of the initial examination) to that patient. The majority of the decrease in CoT compared to last year can be attributed to the phasing out of Units of Dental Activity credits for prescription only CoT. This change was announced as part of the dental contract uplift arrangement, and came into force from 1st November 2012 onwards.

4. Units of Dental Activity (UDA) are weighted CoT and are used in the NHS dental contract system. Band 3 includes the most complex treatments and therefore has the greatest weighting.

5. Patients are exempt from NHS dental charges where they are: a child - aged under 18, aged 18 and in full-time education, pregnant or have had a baby in the year before treatment starts, an NHS inpatient where treatment is delivered by the hospital dentist, an NHS Hospital Dental Service outpatient (there may be a charge for dentures and bridges). Or in receipt of: Income Support (or partner in receipt of Income Support); income-based Jobseeker's Allowance Pension Credit Guarantee Credit; named on a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate; named on a valid NHS Low Income Scheme HC2 certificate; an adult in receipt of income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA); a prisoner. Patients named on an NHS Low Income Scheme HC3 certificate may be eligible for partial help with dental costs.

6. Fluoride varnish is when a fluoride preparation is applied to the teeth surfaces as a primary preventive measure.

7. For media enquiries please contact or 0845 257 6990.

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