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Dental Health Survey of Children and Young People

What is this survey?

The survey will collect information about the condition of children's teeth, dental hygiene, oral health attitudes and behaviours and dental care received.

View further information on the survey, including a podcast

Why are we doing this survey?

Every ten years since 1973, a survey of the dental health of children has been carried out. The Dental Health Survey of Children and Young People 2013 will provide information to underpin and help plan dental health care for children in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in future. The surveys help the NHS understand how the dental health of each generation of children is changing.

We need children from all backgrounds to take part in the survey, whether or not they go to the dentist, so that we get an accurate picture of the dental health of children and young people in 2013 in each country.

Who is doing the survey?

The survey is being carried out by the Office for National Statistics on behalf of NHS Digital, with funding provided by the Department of Health for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is working in collaboration with the NatCen Social Research (NatCen), Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), five University Dental Schools (Birmingham, Cardiff, Newcastle, University College London and Kings College London) and NHS dentists.

How do you choose who takes part?

As it is not possible to ask every school to take part in the survey, a sample of around 1000 primary and secondary schools is chosen at random to represent schools throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A sample of children from within those schools is asked to take part in the study. We need children from all backgrounds to get an accurate picture.

What does taking part involve?

Each child will have a short check-up with a dentist at their school. The check-up with take 5 to 10 minutes: the dentist will look at the teeth and a nurse will take notes. Children in secondary schools will also be asked to complete a short paper questionnaire about their dental health.

The dentist will not carry out any treatment but will just look at the teeth. Parents will be sent some basic feedback by letter about the check-up. If the dentist finds something which they think should be looked at by the child's usual dentist, they will inform the child's parents about this in the feedback letter. The survey check-up should not replace any dental check-ups or treatment the child or young person would normally have and they should still go to see their own dentist as usual.

Parents and guardians will also be sent a questionnaire, which gives them the chance to have their say about their child's dental treatment and care.

What data items are collected?

The survey will cover the condition of the child's teeth, dental hygiene, oral health attitudes and behaviours, dental care and treatment received, and views about the dental service used.

What happens to the answers?

The answers will not include names or address on, so your identity will be kept anonymous. The answers from the questionnaire will then be put together with the answers collected from thousands of other people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The answers will be completely confidential and we will make sure that no-one can be identified from the results we publish.

The results collected are used for research purposes only and the findings won't identify anyone who took part. 

You will never receive any junk mail as a result of speaking to us. We never pass on your details to other organisations for commercial purposes.

Latest reports and findings

The 2013 Children's Dental Health Survey report and key findings were published on 19 March 2015.

A full anonymised dataset of this series of surveys is available in the UK Data Services Catalogue.

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